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Edinburgh Castle reviewing name of Redcoat Cafe after nationalist backlash



The furore had begun on social media after the castle advertised that its Redcoat Cafe, which serves hot food, soup and sandwiches, had reopened following a refurbishment, and invited people to “pop in for a warm beverage or even a tasty slice of cake”.

Douglas Chapman, the Fife SNP MP, and Kevin Stewart, an SNP MSP and former Scottish Government minister, were among those to express their outrage over the name.

Among other nationalists to criticise the name of the cafe were Tricia Marwick, a former Holyrood presiding officer, who responded to the castle’s cafe advertisement by saying “tell me this isn’t for real”.

Mr Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, said: “I don’t think many will be “popping in” for anything. How about a swift rebrand? Redcoat, really?”

Mr Stewart, and Aberdeen MSP and former transport minister, added: “This can’t be for real, surely? If so, this is a huge misjudgement.”

‘This reflects historical illiteracy’

Sir Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh, however, dismissed the argument that the name was offensive as nonsensical, as Scots had played a major role in the British army since the 18th century.

“The view that the name of the cafe is offensive to Scots is simply ludicrous and reflects historical illiteracy,” Sir Tom, widely seen as Scotland’s top historian, told the Telegraph.

“Scottish officers, soldiers and kilted Highland regiments have had a high profile in the British Army from the Seven Years War (1756-1763), especially during the famous battles for Empire, and like the rest of the infantry wore red or scarlet tunics until the later 19th century.

“See for example the famous painting of The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb of the 93rd Highlanders confronting Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.”

He added: “Critics are probably fixated about the Jacobite period when the Highland clans fought English Redcoats but that is only one part of a long story.”

Christopher Whatley, Professor of Scottish History at the University of Dundee, said he “despaired” at the backlash.

“Yes, British regiments wore red tunics,” he said. “But many thousands of Scots joined these regiments.

“And, in large numbers gave their lives as a result. At Culloden, in 1746, there were red-jacketed Scots in the British army who fought against the Jacobites.

“Those concerned seem to know little of Scotland’s history, impervious to the awkward fact that Scots too could be ‘redcoats’, and died wearing uniforms in which red was the dominant colour.

“They fought in the British army on behalf of the British state, and did so proudly, at times accompanied by the sound of bagpipes, without any sense of Scottish inferiority.”

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