London: As the debate around an independent Scotland gathers momentum in the UK ahead of a referendum in September, Queen Elizabeth II has made a rare intervention over the issue.
In a letter addressed to the opening session of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh yesterday, she called on?people to work together ? whatever the outcome of the referendum on September 18 when Scotland will vote on whether to stay or split from the UK.
The Queen wrote: "In this important year of referendum, we pray that, whatever the outcome, people of faith and people of goodwill will work together for the social?good of Scotland.
"We recognise too the important role that the church can play in holding the people of Scotland together, in healing divisions and in safeguarding the interests of the most vulnerable."
The church recently called for restraint amid concerns about attacks on people who comment on the debate, and is holding a service of reconciliation three days after the referendum.
Alex Salmond, Scotland`s first minister, said the Queen was "right to highlight the importance of everyone working together for the social good of Scotland regardless of the?outcome of the referendum".
The latest Panelbase poll for `The Sunday Times` suggests opposition to independence from English voters in Scotland could lead to a no vote.
Scotland was united with England in 1707, laying the foundation for today`s UK. The decision to hold a referendum was made after negotiations with a strongly pro-independence government that has been in power in Scotland since 2007.