Scottish Government asked for 52 changes to children's Jubilee book

England's 1966 World Cup win and Queen Mother's dead among suggested edits.

Scottish Government asked for 52 changes to book about Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Robert Perry / Stringer via Getty Images
Platinum Jubilee street parties took place in Scotland earlier this year.

The Scottish Government suggested 52 amendments before the publication of a special children’s book to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Civil servants provided feedback to the UK Government after receiving the draft original text of Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee celebration.

Changes suggested include references to England’s 1966 World Cup victory, the death of the Queen Mother as a “tragedy” and perceived Anglo-centric references to a sightseeing bus tour of London.

The amendments were contained in a series of emails released under Freedom of Information. They highlighted concerns about the book from staff in the Scottish Government’s curriculum, qualifications and Gaelic division.

The book is about a young girl called Isabella on a visit to her great granny Joyce, who tells her about the Queen and this year’s Jubilee.

The Scottish Government is not taking part in the UK Government’s £12m project to send the commemorative book to every primary school pupil in the UK. 

Instead, they have said it is up to schools to opt-in to receive the “unique gift”.

Some of the references in the book that the Scottish Government requested be removed or altered included:

Original textFeedback provided
“Ooooh look at the England football team there at Wembley in 1966This is another mention of an event that doesn’t seem to merit this level of exposure – and it’s not that relevant in the non-England parts of the UK
2002 Royal tragedy The Queen’s Mother dies aged 101While it was a sad event, ‘tragedy’ reads as a little tabloid when describing the death of very old lady
2012 London OlympicsInclude Glasgow Commonwealth Games
So our Queen is in charge of the UK today wondering…who ruled these four nations in the pastThe Queen is not ‘in charge’ in our constitutional system – appreciate that is explained elsewhere but this reference could be misleading
The family do a sightseeing bus tour of London, visiting palaces related to the Queen, including a mini, simplified map of London showing the locations of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London EyeThis is very anglo, not to say London, centric – could it be replaced with something about social change through the Queen’s reign? Inclusion, equalities. Could also use space for reflecting on current events affecting the UK and hence the monarchy e.g the pandemic and climate change, and potentially Brexit (although we would still prefer this removed).

Put together in collaboration with royal experts and historians, the book includes famous quotes from the Queen, facts on the coronation ceremony and anecdotes about the lives of famous Commonwealth figures, such as Nelson Mandela.

It also contains information about notable Kings and Queens and a timeline of Queen Elizabeth’s own life.

When the protagonist Isabella arrives at Joyce’s house in the book, she discovers a treasure box of souvenirs that become her guide to the history of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

The keepsakes in the box prompt descriptions of the lives of inspirational people, important art, design, and cultural achievements, as well as landmark innovations and inventions.

These include construction of the Channel tunnel, the election of Margaret Thatcher and the creation of the world wide web.

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for constitution, external affairs and culture, said: “The sheer number of suggested changes seems excessive – particularly in a book that, ultimately, the SNP government opted out of providing automatically to Scottish schoolkids.

“The request for mention of England’s 1966 World Cup win to be removed appears ridiculous and petty. Whether nationalists like it or not, this was a major event during Her Majesty’s reign, which it would have been odd in the extreme not to acknowledge.

“Similarly, while Brexit has its supporters and detractors, it was a major news story and merits inclusion in any book chronicling events of the last 70 years in the UK.

“For the sake of the Queen, you’d think the nationalists could take a day off from their bitter and obsessive agenda.

“This book was both educational and a nice keepsake for youngsters that marked The Queen’s platinum jubilee, so it’s sad that the Scottish Government forced schools here to opt in if they wanted pupils to receive it.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The book is a UK Government project and they are responsible for its content, development and distribution.

“Scottish Government officials were given sight of drafts and provided feedback to the Department for Education upon request.”