Humza Yousaf’s deputy has been accused of showing a “disgraceful” lack of respect to the Princess Royal after turning up to a royal event 40 minutes late.
Attendees at the official opening of the expanded Aberdeen Harbour said that the Princess Royal, as well as 350 other guests, were kept waiting by Shona Robison who blamed “urgent government business” for her delay.
When the deputy first minister eventually made her speech at the event, she then failed to thank the Princess Royal for attending, which some saw as a further snub.
The Princess Royal is understood to have filled the time caused by Ms Robison’s late arrival by chatting to members of the public for far longer than had been scheduled.
Normal protocol is that timing is essential on royal visits, which have to be carefully planned for security reasons.
The Scottish Government said that Ms Robison had apologised to organisers and denied that the event had been delayed.
However, two guests told the Scottish Daily Mail that speeches scheduled to begin at 2.25pm did not start until 3.05pm at Friday’s event because of the SNP politician’s tardiness.
The incident follows Humza Yousaf, a republican, causing controversy by apparently smirking while Scotland football fans loudly booed God Save the King before Scotland’s match with England at Hampden Park earlier this month.
Douglas Lumsden, the Scottish Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: “It was completely disrespectful that the deputy first minister could not get to the royal opening of Aberdeen Harbour on time and to keep everyone waiting, including Princess Anne, is quite disgraceful.”
The decision by Ms Robison, a close friend of Nicola Sturgeon’s, not to thank the Princess Royal came in contrast to the speech given by Andrew Bowie, an Aberdeenshire MP and the UK Government representative, at the event.
“Andrew Bowie was there for the UK Government and he thanked Her Royal Highness for attending but Shona made no reference to her at all,” one guest said. “She didn’t acknowledge the Princess Royal in any way.”
The event was held to mark the official opening of the Port of Aberdeen, a £420 million project which it is hoped will deliver a multi-billion pound economic boost to the region.
Shift in position
It took place following a series of incidents which have highlighted the Scottish Government’s shift in position towards the Royal family since Mr Yousaf succeeded Ms Sturgeon.
While Mr Yousaf attended the Coronation and Scottish celebrations to mark the accession of the King, he has failed to discipline his minister Patrick Harvie, the Green co-leader, who attacked his own government’s spending on royal events.
Mr Harvie branded a service of thanksgiving for the King in Edinburgh, which the Scottish Government helped organise and pay for, a “Game Of Thrones-style cosplay exercise” when he spoke at a republican protest rally.
The Princess Royal is known for her commitment to Scotland, almost always attending home rugby fixtures at Murrayfield.
Earlier this year she was appointed Deputy Colonel in Chief of The Royal Regiment of Scotland in a move designed to recognise her close ties to the country.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The deputy first minister was unavoidably delayed due to urgent government business and apologised to the organisers. The speeches were not delayed and the organisers were notified in advance.”
The Scottish Government said that after the speeches were made Ms Robison “enjoyed her conversations with everyone including the Princess Royal”.