In Depth

Royal baby: the perfect plot to foil Scottish independence?

Timing of Kate Middleton's pregnancy revelation ten days before referendum just 'too convenient'

The news that Kate Middleton is pregnant again has sparked thousands of messages of congratulations – but also suspicions about the timing of the announcement just ten days before the Scottish independence referendum.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond was accused of playing politics with the news after he tweeted congratulations to "the Earl and Countess of Strathearn", using the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's official Scottish titles.

But others suspected it was the No campaign that was behind the timing of the royal baby announcement, which came just a day after David Cameron reportedly held "crisis talks" with the Queen over the Scottish referendum. The Daily Mirror and several other newspapers claim the Queen is "privately horrified" at the prospect of Scotland voting for independence, although Buckingham Palace insists she remains neutral on the matter.

The timing of Kate Middleton's pregnancy a day later "just looks too neat and too convenient", says James Kirkup in the Daily Telegraph. "All concerned will deny it utterly, of course, but an awful lot of people will look at this announcement and suspect it has been made with the intention of swaying the Scottish vote."

PROJECT ROYAL BABY TO THE RESCUE! #indyref

— Liam Houghton (@LiamHoughton) September 8, 2014

Deliberate or not, the news could prove to be the boost the pro-unionists need, suggests his colleague Olivia Goldhill. "Forget tea time, beefeaters or those derelict red phone boxes – nothing makes you feel more proud to be British than the world's most photogenic royal couple announcing that they're expecting a second child," says Goldhill.The story of the Kate and William begins at the University of St Andrews, she adds, and students would be "bereft to see their mascots become foreign citizens".

SHE'S PREGNANT SCOTLAND. YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE UNION NOW. #RoyalBaby

— David Morgan (@thisisdavid) September 8, 2014

Some tweeters have suggested Salmond's only hope would be to announce that he is having twins, or a baby panda. But others are not convinced the news will sway voters in reality.

The Queen's offered to have the next royal baby named 'WILLIAM WALLACE ROBERT BRUCE BURNS' if the Scots agree to vote NO.

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 8, 2014

"There may well be some homely Morningside or East Lothian grannies with corgis running around their drawing rooms and the lion rampant flying in the garden who would be encouraged by the reports of royal concern and delighted by the news that Prince William and Kate are expecting again," says Sean O'Grady in The Independent. "Equally there will be plenty of Scots who will be unmoved, or worse."

Wow-wee. Timing! Duchess of Cambridge delivers on the Devo-Max timetable. Scots to get their own dedicated heir. Go Kate !

— Rory Bremner (@rorybremner) September 8, 2014

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times that put the Yes campaign on 51 per cent and the unionists on 49 per cent certainly shows that every vote counts, but it remains to be seen how Scots feel about the Duke and Duchess's news."Could this all be a plot to make their grandma happy, and keep everything in its right and proper place, kingdom-wise?" asks O'Grady. "I doubt it, but if it was, I would certainly be impressed by their dedication to the union, in both senses."

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