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Letters / What’s going on?

What’s going on? How is it that SMUHA can parade in Glasgow, but not in Shetland? Seems like, as in Downing Street, one rule for them, a different rule for us.

What I find more worrying is that the event [Celtic Connection] was in celebration of the 550th anniversary of Shetland allegedly becoming part of Scotland by the 1472 Act of Annexation.

SMUHA Vikings take to the streets of Glasgow to mark the opening of Celtic Connections festival

The 1472 Act was the first of a series of attempts by the Scottish Crown to legitimise their dodgy claim to Orkney and Shetland. A much more significant event, the pawning of Orkney and Shetland by King Christian of Denmark to James III of Scotland, occurred three years before, but we saw no celebration of that in 2019.

The 1472 annexation and others by subsequent monarchs were interspersed with farming out to various “needy and rapacious courtiers” as Balfour put it. This process of annexation, farming out and taking back by the Crown went on for almost two hundred years.

The Crown would have got away with these shenanigans had it not been for the 1667 Treaty of Breda (which, together with the 1669 Annexation, historians prefer to ignore).

At Breda, Charles II was forced to concede that the 1468/69 pawning document still stood in its full force. This meant that all he had was ‘the king’s lands’, held in trust until the Danes came up with the money to redeem them.

The remaining 90 per cent belonged to other land owners which, of course, King Christian could not have pawned in the first place. In his 1669 Annexation Charles II admits that what he and his father (and, by implication, all previous Scottish monarchs) had done was “contrarie to the laws and acts of parliament of this kingdom” – an extraordinary admission by a monarch.

The 1669 Annexation was a major piece of legislation of around 1,800 words, whereas the full text of the much celebrated 1472 Annexation reads like an afterthought to the day’s business and occupies a mere 51 words.

Brian Smith’s article “When did Orkney and Shetland become part of Scotland?” published in The Orkney Antiquarian Journal comes to the conclusion that it happened in 1472, but its subtitle A contribution to the debate shows that Brian does not claim that he has any proof.

Even so, the article was relied upon by the Crown in a case against myself in its attempt to ‘prove’ that Shetland is part of Scotland. It is in fact the only evidence ever produced in court since I started challenging the authority of Scotland and the UK in Shetland in 2004.

The fact that the whole authority of Scotland and the UK rests on The Word of Brian is beyond belief and the Celtic Connections event shows that even that weak crutch needs to be shored up at any opportunity.

Of course, if you want the real story, you should buy my book Stolen Isles, now in its fourth edition and with its arguments unrefuted, available at The Shetland Times bookshop.

Stuart Hill