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Prince Charles backlash: Plan for new honour slapped down – ‘Now is not the time!’

Aberdeen’s Lord Provost, Councillor Barney Crockett, has been trying to gather enough support to give Prince Charles the Freedom of the City over the past few weeks. However, these plans have been slapped down by a number of councillors, with some refusing to back an eventual move and others simply saying this is not the time to discuss an award for the Prince of Wales. 

Mr Crockett, who became Lord Provost in 2017, approached the SNP group at Aberdeen city council in March to ask if they would support a vote to bestow Prince Charles with the honour.

SNP group leader Councillor Alex Nicoll said: “I understand that the Lord Provost was trying to gather signatures to award the freedom of the city to Prince Charles, but that is not something the SNP group felt they could support.

“Ultimately, the honour is for those who have done an outstanding service for our city and deserve to have it recognised.

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“Denis Law was recently awarded the honour, an Aberdonian who has never forgotten his roots and whose charitable trust has done a power of work for the city.”

Footballer Denis Law received the Freedom of Aberdeen award in 2017 during a special ceremony at the Beach Ballroom.

No awards of this kind have been since given by the city.

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The Lord Provost has yet to get in touch with every member of the council on the matter, as the Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Ian Yuill, said he had not been approached for support.

However, Mr Yuill doesn’t believe this would be the right time for the city council of Aberdeen to discuss awarding the Prince of Wales with the Freedom of the City honour.

He said: “The Liberal Democrats would in principle support awarding the Freedom of Aberdeen to Prince Charles.

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“We would be happy to discuss this with other councillors.

“Now is not the right time though for anyone to be raising or discussing this.

“There are clearly much more urgent things for the council to be dealing with during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Aberdeen city council is led by an administration composed of Conservative, Labour and independent councillors.   

Its spokesperson confirmed the priority of the council at this time is to fight the coronavirus pandemic and help the city get through the crisis.

They said: “The administration is not considering bringing forward any freedom of the city nominees for consideration by council.

“Our attention and focus is and remains fully on the delivery of services through the Covid-19 pandemic and its long-term impacts.”

A spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council added: “There are currently no plans to bring forward any freedom of the city recipients.” 

The Freedom of the City award is bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, a visiting celebrity or dignitary.

Prince Charles, who is not believed to have been approached about this honour or to have asked about it, has one of his residencies, Birkhall, in the Aberdeenshire area.

His beloved grandmother the Queen Mother, from whom Prince Charles inherited his Scottish house, was awarded the Freedom of Aberdeen in 1959.

The award can be given only with a majority of a two-thirds in the city council.

The motion can be discussed just with a simple majority.   

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