Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Twitter Ye Not - Bonnie Prince Charlie

Twitter Ye Not - Bonnie Prince Charlie

A regular piece for the Daily Mail Weekend magazine about how figures in history might have twittered or tweeted or whatever, had they the chance, inclination and technology.

On the 23rd July 1745, Charles Edward Stewart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed on the remote Scottish island of Eriskay and began to muster an army in order to challenge the Hanoverian King George II and regain the crown for the Jacobites. As the Twitter feed for that day demonstrates, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

I have shown BPC (aka the Young Pretender) on the one side in all his Scotch finery (he was actually Rome-born to an Italian mother, and educated in France!).
He looks on at Flora MacDonald, a loyal Scottish supporter who helped him escape pursuers on the Isle of Skye by taking him in a small boat disguised as her Irish maid, "Betty Burke," evaded capture and left the country aboard the French frigate L'Heureux, arriving back in France in September.

The cause of the Stuarts now lost, the remainder of his life was — with a brief exception — spent in exile. Charles's flight from Scotland after the uprising has rendered him a romantic figure of heroic failure in later representations. The famous "Skye Boat Song" commerates the flight, and I have shown Flora's 'wee bonnie boat' in the background. I sung this song quite a lot as a child (without knowing much of the story I'm ashamed to say).

Both figures are tartan-clad as later romantic portraits would represent them. All about them grow thistles, symbol of Scotland, and, for a time, a thorn in the Hanoverian side. Looking at images of Charlie, I'm not sure our modern sensibilities would consider him 'bonnie' - but then again, "Girly Prince Charlie" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

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