LONDON — The birth of Britain's Prince George has reopened a rift among those campaigning for Scotland to vote for independence next year, playing into the hands of those who want it to retain its 306-year union with England.
The "Yes Scotland" campaign says it wants to win a referendum on independence in 2014 and for the country to become fully independent by 2016, shaking off centuries of what it regards as oppressive rule from London.
The Scottish National Party (SNP), the main force backing independence for the country of around 5 million, has promised voters they can become independent while keeping Queen Elizabeth as their monarch and the pound sterling as their currency.
But the chairman of Scotland's pro-independence campaign took an anti-monarchy stance on Sunday, saying that Prince George, the first son of Prince William and his wife Kate, should never be king of an independent Scotland.
Dennis Canavan, a former Labor party lawmaker, said keeping a hereditary head of state was "an affront to democracy and a complete anachronism in a modern 21st century democracy".
"The birth of a baby is a great occasion for any family, and I congratulate the Royal Family on this happy event," he told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.
"(But) as to the possibility of another King George, it is important to remember that true democracy is based on the sovereignty of the people rather than the sovereignty of any monarch."
If Scotland voted for independence in September next year, another vote should be held to decide if it wants to retain the monarchy or choose an elected head of state, he said, adding that he would vote to cut ties with Britain's royal family.
The SNP restated its view on Sunday that the monarchy should be retained in any independent Scotland, while a spokesman for the campaign to keep Scotland inside Britain said Canavan's words had exposed the true face of Scottish nationalism and showed how divided the pro-independence movement was.
Most opinion polls show around a third of Scots would vote for independence, while almost half would elect to remain part of Britain. A large number of voters remain undecided however.
Prince George, born on July 22 amid a global media frenzy, is third in line to the British throne.