In a referendum on Thursday, Scots will decide whether to end their 307-year relationship with the United Kingdom and become an independent country — and the Queen of England is just the latest high-profile person to speak out on the subject.
Bound by sovereign impartiality, the monarch can’t say much. But as she was leaving a church near her Balmoral estate in Scotland, she said “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future” to a bystander who jokingly referenced the referendum. A statement from Buckingham Palace said the monarch views the vote as “a matter for the people of Scotland.”
“Austin Powers” actor Mike Myers expressed a similar view, but with more humor. “Shrek wants what the will of the Scottish people want,” Myers responded in the monster’s brogue when asked in a radio interview what he thought of the debate. The Canadian actor added, out of character: “I love Scotland. I hope they remain part of Britain — and if they don’t, I still love them.”
Anti-independence groups have solicited celebrity support for their campaign. More than 200 celebrities, including rockers Sir Paul McCartney, Sting and Mick Jagger; composer Andrew Lloyd Webber; comedian Eddie Izzard; model Stella Tenant; actresses Helena Bonham-Carter and Dame Judi Dench, Simon Cowell, and Stephen Hawking signed a letter urging Scotland to stay in the union.
Critics say celebs have no business weighing in — a rejoinder similarly lobbed at celebrities in the United States who weighed in on the war in Gaza.
English glam rocker David Bowie sent Kate Moss as his ambassador to deliver a succinct anti-independence message to the audience at the 2014 Brit Awards, where Moss accepted an award on his behalf: “Scotland, stay with us.”
It didn’t go over well with Twitter followers, who told him to “go back to Mars.” Pro-independence Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle said, “I completely respect Bowie’s right to express views on independence, just as I’d respect Iggy Pop’s opinions on the CERN particle accelerator.”
Others in the “no” camp include Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Mirror that she is a proud Scot but not a nationalist. “I don’t believe you should break what’s basically working,” she wrote. “I don’t feel reassured that the change will in any way make our already great country better.”
“Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, who was born in England but lives in Scotland with her Scottish husband, has been perhaps the most outspoken opponent of separation, labeling the attitudes of some in the pro-independence camp as “a little Death Eaterish for my taste.” Rowling donated a million pounds to the “Better Together” campaign and debates the vote with her Twitter followers. Though she’s “no fan of the current Westminster government” or the “London-centric media,” she wrote in an essay on her Web site that independence “carries serious risks.”
Soccer star David Beckham made an appeal to sports fans, writing in an open letter that he was proud to play for the U.K. Olympic team and “saw that same pride and passion in every Scottish player and fan whenever we played each other.” He warned the decision would have a “huge effect,” but said it wasn’t for him to tell Scots how to vote.
Oscar-winning British actress Emma Thompson, whose mother is Scottish, said in a TV interview: “I understand the romance of it. I understand the passion for it, given that the relationship between the two countries has been so belligerent and so difficult and England was so awful to Scotland.” But she added: “Why insist on building a new border between human beings in an ever-shrinking world where we are still struggling to live alongside each other?”
Those in favor of independence include more than 1,300 Scottish writers, musicians and artists who have signed their own letter arguing that independence would unleash creative freedom. “We are voting Yes because we have imagined a better country,” it said. “Now, we want to build it.”
Nor was a former James Bond silent.
“Simply put – there is no more creative an act than creating a new nation,” Sean Connery told the New Statesman in March. “I believe the opportunity of independence is too good to miss.” However ardent his views, Connery won’t get to express them on Thursday, as the vote is only open to Scots who live in Scotland.
English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood made secession look stylish at London fashion week, sending her models down the runway at wearing “yes” badges. Westwood, known both for her outspokenness on social issues and use of traditional Scottish tartans in her designs, denounced those opposed to secession as “frightened and stupid.” In a statement left on audience members’ seats, she wrote that voting yes “could be the turning point towards a better world. [Scotland] could lead by example.” Backstage, talking to reporters, she added: “I hate England. I like Scotland because somehow I think they are better than we are. They are more democratic.”
Elijah Wood, the American who played Frodo in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, compared the United Kingdom to Middle-earth and told Scots to “F–king go for it” while at the Edinburgh film fest. “’Frodo’ backs Scottish independence,” proclaimed an Edinburgh News headline.
For her part, Scottish singer Annie Lennox seemed to recognize the limitations of celebrity political endorsements. The former Eurythmics singer reportedly said: “Personally, I’m neither a gambler nor soothsayer and my view doesn’t count in any case.”