Bonnie Prince Charlie points the way forward for the 21st century

They call this
The Prince’s Shore. It’s on the tiny island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides,
linked to South Uist by a two-lane causeway and to the Isle of Barra by ferry. This
is where, on July 23, 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie first set foot on Scottish soil.
A hubristic twit with an astonishing sense of entitlement, the prince had
sailed from France, where he had been born and raised, to claim the kingship of
Scotland, which he believed to be rightfully his.

Soon after
landing on this beach, and over-riding the sage advice of more than one
Scottish chieftain – “Go back to France, you daft bastard!” – the prince set about enlisting troops. He raised just enough of them to launch an ill-conceived assault on
Scotland’s far more powerful neighbour to the south. This Big Mistake led
directly to the calamitous Battle of Culloden, complete with atrocities, and
then to the Highland Clearances – in short, to 150 years of unmitigated disaster
for Scotland.

If I were a Time
Lord, I would confront the Bonnie Prince on this beach in 1745. Back to France
I would send him, dead or alive. No Culloden, no Clearances. We’re talking a completely different narrative. In the real world, the students of Eriskay School built this cairn in
1995, overlooking the location of the prince’s arrival. And in 2017, we hiked to this spot along a sandy beach,
Sheena and I, and stood looking out, imagining what might have been. And reflecting: stop one man early enough and you change history.

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