FIONA SKILLEN and MATTHEW L. McDOWELL
This paper examines the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh. It discusses the marketing, ceremonial presentation, and iconography of an event dubbed ‘the Friendly Games’ by Prince Philip, but one which nevertheless had its share of boycott threats and political intrigue. The iconography of these events is placed within the context of Scottish national and political identity, as the presentation of the event – controversially, in some quarters – utilised Balmoral-esque ‘Scottish’ tropes, including tartan Scottish team uniforms, and the copious use of ‘Scottish’ music, imagery and literature in the media and ceremonial elements of the Games. It examines the marketing of the 1970 Games, inclusive of: sponsorship and advertising, the creation of a mascot and logo, and songs. The ceremonial elements of the competition, including the participation of the royal family, opening and closing ceremonies, stamps and medals, and the arrangements surrounding these events and objects are considered. This piece also briefly examines the context of Scottish/British domestic politics, as well as wider contemporary tensions related to ex-Empire nations’ participation.
(This is the text of the pre-publication print of: Fiona Skillen and Matthew L. McDowell, ‘The Edinburgh 1970 British Commonwealth Games: Representations of Identities, Nationalism and Politics’, Sport in History 34 (3): 454-75. There may be small textual differences between this version and the published version. Any reference made to this paper should refer to the published version.)
It is perhaps surprising, given Scotland has hosted the Commonwealth Games three times – 1970, 1986 and 2014 – that there is little historiography which examines Scotland’s relationship to the competition. This article examines several different aspects of the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh. It will first discuss the winning of the bid and the subsequent funding of the event and then looks at the ways in which certain tropes of national identity dominated the marketing and presentation of the Games. This article also discusses how these manifest themselves within the ceremonies of the Games, which were ostensibly displays of regal and military authority that papered over serious fissures within both the Scottish/British political establishment and participant nations. We will examine the 1970 Games against the backdrop of domestic and international politics during the period. Our approach builds upon previous research by Dawson and Gorman which discusses specific Canadian events in the history of the Empire and Commonwealth Games within civic, national and imperial/Commonwealth contexts, and applying this to the corresponding contexts around the 1970 Edinburgh Games.
The build up to the 1970 Games
The British Empire Games were renamed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 and the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, before finally gaining its current title, the Commonwealth Games, for the 1978 Games. The Games are overseen by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), which also controls the sporting programme and selects the host country. Each country bids to host the Games in a specified city within their boundaries.
In the early 1930s, the Edinburgh Corporation was informally approached about the possibility of hosting a future Empire Games by the British Empire Games Council for Scotland. By early 1936 a formal Scottish bid had been drawn up between the BEGCS and the Corporation and informal lobbying began. Despite starting as early as 1936, it was arguably not until 1956 that serious effort was put into winning the right to host the event. Scotland sent a delegation to the biennial British Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly at Melbourne in 1956, at Cardiff in 1958, Rome in 1960, Perth, Australia in 1962 and finally Tokyo in 1964, where it was finally successful. Scotland beat New Zealand by 18 votes to 11. The bid to hold the 1966 Games was lost to Jamaica, the first time the Games were held outside the ‘Big Four’, of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United Kingdom; however the subsequent bid for the 1970 Games was successful.
The bidding process for the 1970 Commonwealth Games must be seen against a backdrop of the changing role of the state’s involvement in sport. Throughout the United Kingdom and its former Imperial dominions the period from 1960 onwards marked a significant change in attitudes towards governmental intervention in sport and development of sport policies. Previously the UK had taken a more laissez faire approach towards government involvement in sport. This changed with the Labour government of Harold Wilson, first elected in 1964, which had the first dedicated minister for sport, in the person of Denis Howell. This new approach was underpinned by concerns around a perceived national decline within the international arena, including the dismantling of the Empire, the decline of industry, and political crises such the Cold War and Suez, all of which led to sport becoming seen as one of the ways to increase national prestige.
Selling ‘Scotland’s Games’
The Commonwealth Games are often regarded as the ‘compact games’, until the 1990s they had no more than ten sports and no team games. It was therefore thought that the ‘small’ nature of the Games meant that they were perceived to be affordable for cities to run and relatively easy for them to organise. Unlike their larger scale counter-parts, the Summer and Winter Olympics, they did not, as a rule, require new stadiums, accommodation or infrastructure; however, Black notes that ‘second-order’ mega-events such as the Commonwealth Games do not necessarily represent good value for money, and are actually tied to wider geopolitical concerns other than financial success.
The organisation of the 1970 Commonwealth Games did present the local organising committee with a number of problems. Foremost was the cost of running the event.
From the outset of organising the Games it was apparent that there would be a large short fall. It was estimated that the Games would cost approximately £500,000 to run, however the estimated maximum ticket revenue was only an estimated £300,000. One of the first tasks of the organising committee was to decide how to allocate their budget and how to raise the required funds.
One way in which the organisers hoped to generate income was through fund raising, drawing on ideas of national identity and popular patriotism. By marketing the Games as ‘Scotland’s Games’, rather than just ‘Edinburgh’s Games’, the organisers hoped to stimulate interest and enthusiasm from across the country. Their marketing emphasised that: ‘For a few weeks in 1970 the eyes of the Commonwealth will be on Scotland’. It was therefore a chance for Scots to show off their country and their hospitality. By donating to the appeal Scots would be helping towards achieving this. Organisers not only wanted Scots to donate but also to attend the events of the Games and so from early in 1969, first quarterly and later monthly newsletters were published and circulated across Scotland. These newsletters brought the latest information about the Games directly into homes and workplaces.
The advertising budget for the Games was set at £31,000; from the outset organisers knew this funding was not enough. The Games’ own official history noted that: ‘It was obvious that little was available for advertising and paid promotional material.’ In order to maximise publicity for the Games, and the associated fund raising, the advertising committee set out to use the budget where it would guarantee maximum coverage. In addition to the usual poster campaigning they ploughed money into a series of leaflets that campaigned for the Games and local tourist attractions. They invested in the design and marketing of a commemorative series of stamps and perhaps more importantly, in terms of direct impact, they sponsored a programme of franking of all mail being sent in the Edinburgh area. The specially designed franks advertised the Games and their dates. There were ultimately three stamps issued by the Post Office on 15 July 1970, just before the Games started, and showed separate artistic representations of athletics cycling and swimming. Similarly, the Committee commissioned the design and distribution of car stickers. The organisers focused their efforts on UK-wide and local publicity in order to engage the British public, in particular those within a hundred miles of Edinburgh. In this way the advertising committee hoped to achieve maximum impact but with relatively low financial output.
However, given the limits of the budget, as one committee member acknowledged, ‘from an early stage it was realised that the main publicity for the Games would have to be achieved on news value.’ The organising and the advertising committees both went out of their way to court positive publicity for the events of the Games. An average of four press releases and/or conferences a week took place in 1970 during the months leading up to the Games. British Information Service outlets were used to distribute ‘tailor-made’ articles for regional and international newspapers and other publications in the year leading up to the Games. Some two hundred radio, television and newspaper reporters visited Edinburgh to see preparations for the event during the six months preceding the opening ceremony. In co-operation with the Post Office, a Games Information Service was prepared by press staff on a daily basis on the lines of the ‘tele-tourist’ service.’
In addition to the courting of the press, the organisers also established a sub-committee to co-ordinate the publication of an official Games brochure, led by Alastair M. Dunnett, editor of the Scotsman and M. McIntyre Hood, a retired Canadian newspaper editor. Their task was to produce ‘a handsome, dignified and informative publication’, but more importantly it was to stimulate corporate sponsorship. Unfortunately, while the publication itself was of a high quality it was slow in appearing:
Unlike some previous Games brochures, which appeared as major part of the fund-raising appeal, the 1970 brochure appeared when the appeal fund had already tapped many sources; nonetheless, the result was encouraging.
The official brochure draws on traditional imagery of Scotland. It began with ‘Ceud Mile Failte!’ – ‘A hundred thousand welcomes’, which was to become a feature of most of the publicity materials circulated during the 1970 Games. It emphasised Scotland as ‘a land of history; beauty and romance.’ And the friendliness of its people, ‘wherever you travel in Edinburgh and in Scotland you will find the folk who will match up to the label put on our event – “The Friendly Games”.’ This brochure was not really about the Games itself, but more about the country hosting it. It was less about reflecting the everyday experiences, and drew on perceived notions of ‘Scottishness’. Indeed, these themes were to recur time and again throughout the build-up and during the Games themselves.
The iconography of the Games
From the outset, 1970 BCG chiefs strove to ensure that the Games’ presentation exemplified a particular brand of ‘Scottishness’. Tartan, Highland dress and ‘Scottish’ music were frequently used in the promotional material and ceremony of the Games. ‘Tartanry’ represents a contested cultural space with multivalent meanings, both internal and external to the country. 1970 represented a particular space in time just prior to tartan’s re-appropriation as a symbol of ‘cool’ in rock culture, and its more overtly nationalist manifestation in the post-1970 dress of football’s ‘Tartan Army’. The late 1960s, through to the 1980s, though, were also a time when tartanry and other ethnographic markers of Scottish identity were under heavy attack within Scottish academic and cultural circles. Tom Nairn’s 1977 The Break-Up of Britain included a thorough critique of the perceived sentimentality of tartanry and the ‘kailyard’ literary tradition. Many at the time viewed the use of tartan and similar tropes as backward-looking: Colin McArthur, for instance, viewed the use of similar kinds of ‘Scottishness’ in cinema as a ‘pre-feudal’, rather than a radical response to modernity.
The Games indeed did not represent a radical identity: this was ‘Scottishness’ which promoted Scotland’s identity as part of the wider Empire/Commonwealth, and played on existing notion of outsiders’ perception of Scotland. In that respect, their iconography bore much of a resemblance to that of Braemar and other Highland gatherings, including those within Scotland’s wider emigrant community. A piece in the Games’ Official Souvenir Brochure makes the connection between the Highland and Commonwealth Games explicit, with Albert Mackie linking an ancient narrative thread between the two:
If I tell you that we Scots more or less invented athletic gatherings, as well as starting the Commonwealth, you will realize that as a race we are given to blowing other instruments besides the bagpipes. Our claims to antiquity extend to our interest in sport. Long before the Olympic Games, we claim, our Gaelic ancestors enjoyed the Tailteann Games, otherwise known as the Lugnasad, founded by the god, Lugh of the Long Arm, in honour of his foster mother, Tailti, 3000 years ago. This is the sort of time scale on which our racial memory operates.
It was precisely this line of thought which the organisers of the Games sought to exploit. The use of a distinct kind of national identity, however, was not just a celebration of Scotland’s achievements in the world of athletics and culture: it was also a marketing tool that tied the Games’ brand to a message heavily geared towards a tourist audience. From the early-nineteenth century onwards, sport itself had certainly been a crucial factor in the development of the Scottish tourist industry, with golf, hunting, and Highland gatherings drawing large numbers of visitors from abroad. Intertwined with sport is Scottish tourism’s relationship with the past, which continues to be framed in part by the ‘King’s Jaunt’, the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, organised by author Walter Scott. This arguably represented a fictive, romantic Scottish past, and has often been reproduced in contemporary tartanry and ‘kailyard’ literature. Even Scotland’s bid for the Games played up these romantic elements: the official representation document to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Federation contained vivid colour photographs of Loch Lomond, Loch Earn and Eyemouth, along with Edinburgh, as well as photographs of boys in full Highland dress and deer on a hunting estate. The illustration of the Games’ proposed main and athletics stadium, Meadowbank, one of the primary venues to be built for the Games, featured very little detail of the seating and track, while focusing instead on the view that the ground would offer of Arthur’s Seat. The booklet advertised Scotland as a destination for traditional ‘sporting holidays’: central to this were Highland gatherings, golf, fishing and hill walking. ‘It is difficult to go anywhere in Scotland’, it stated, ‘in pursuit of the more active or quieter sports or recreations, without finding some scenic beauty.’ Effectively, the proposal set the tone for the kind of Games Scotland could uniquely host in 1970, and the use of Arthur’s Seat and other landmarks reflected similar appropriations of the Scottish landscape which were used to sell Scottish sports tourism and related products.
The necessity to design a unique symbol for the Games was first mentioned at the meeting of the Games’ Executive Committee on 11 December 1967. As the British Commonwealth Games’ flag was about to be unfurled at the new Games headquarters, the Cockburn Hotel, the Games’ chairman, Sir Herbert A. Brechin, reiterated the necessity of putting together a new unique symbol for the 1970 competition. It would, he said, represent the ‘Scottish’ games, and that it ‘would be desirable for this symbol to be carried on any future flags, notepaper, etc.’, and could be placed on concessions. A month later, the General Purposes Committee had approved the final design of a symbol created by Oxley Studies. The symbol ‘iIncorporate[d] the established B.C.G. Crown and Chain, supplemented by the Scottish Thistle and Saltire’. In fact, once designed, the Legal and Concessions committee moved fast to secure the permission of the Lord Lyon King of Arms for the use of the Saltire in their logo, and further discussion ensued as to whether or not the symbol could be copyrighted. The symbol was associated with ‘more sophisticated products’, according to the Games’ newsletter.
The same could not be said for the symbol’s more down-to-earth and ultimately more controversial counterpart, Wee Mannie, the 1970 Games’ mascot. Sporting mascots themselves have represented an ideological and political place within sports marketing strategies, one which dovetails with pre-existing promotional regimes, and often exemplifies national stereotypes. Wee Mannie had a troubled existence within Committee minutes and with the press. The mascot sat side by side with the symbol in the September 1969 newsletter as examples of ‘money spinners’. Wee Mannie, it said, was a ‘fun figure for toys and souvenirs’, and ‘could be used to suit individual requirements.’ ‘His small kilted figure’, it stated, ‘can be modified to fit into the nine Games’ sports.’ It was designed by an advertising firm based in Edinburgh, and Walter Tuckwell & Co., who had previously been successful in marketing World Cup Willie, the mascot of the 1966 World Cup, licensed both Wee Mannie and the Games’ symbol for use on Games’ merchandise. The success of England’s recent World Cup was very much in the minds of the Games’ organisers. Edinburgh City Councillor Magnus Williamson, in meeting a representative of Walter Tuckwell in December 1967, discussed something along the lines of the recent ‘World Soccer Cup’, and the ‘possible promotion of an animated character – more dignified than World Cup Willie but one which would typify the Commonwealth Games, sports and Scotland’. (World Cup Willie himself reflected the duality of ‘Englishness’ and ‘Britishness’.) Williamson was additionally told that, for money-making purposes, a comic character was essential. Yet, for something that was initially thought of as a money-maker, Games’ officials seems reluctant to offer anything other than qualified praise for the small, stocky figure in Highland dress and a tartan bonnet. The design for it was approved by the Legal and Concession Committee in January 1969; but, at the 22 January meeting of the Executive Committee, the mascot did not meet with the approval of the members, and the decision was postponed until the next meeting, when it was finally approved and registered. The lack of enthusiasm was shown in the Legal and Concession Commitee’s reference to the ‘mascot design… known at that time as “the Wee Mannie”’. Without any official ceremony naming the mascot, the name appears to have stuck regardless. Wee Mannie was not considered good craftsmanship; shortly before the Games, he was singled out for special criticism by the Scottish Committee of the Council of Industrial Design, which had recently damned the souvenirs being sold in Edinburgh as ‘appalling junk’. Even the leader of the Glasgow Herald, which gushed praise for the Games after 26 July Closing Ceremonies, ridiculed the ‘Wee Manny’ [sic] as ‘a travesty of a symbol dreamed up in the think-tanks of deepest London and finally rejected with the contempt it deserved.’
The Games’ competitive and commemorative medals were less contentious. Invitations for firms to tender for the medals were first released by the organisers on 1 March 1968.  The offer of London company Alec Brook Ltd. was accepted, and an order was placed for 167 gold medals, 167 medals, 178 bronze medals, and 3,250 commemorative medals. The victory medal featured an outline of Edinburgh Castle, while the commemorative medals featured a lion rampant; the ‘tails’ end featured the Federation’s iconography. Aside from the participants who received medals, collectable items were also on sale for philatelic collectors. The Postmaster General approved a special set of commemorative stamps for the Games in early 1969. An effort was additionally made to capitalise on unique Scottish products and craftsmanship. Fortunately, the Scottish athletic community had its own representatives within the business community who could make this happen. ‘Clanedin’, the ‘Commonwealth Tartan’, was specially designed for the Games, and was presented to Games Council Chairman Peter Heatly on 29 April 1970 by its designer Tom Stillie, a former president of the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association (SAAA) who was, at the time, a lecturer at the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels. The material was gifted to the Games Council for Scotland by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which was owned by David and Alix (Jamieson) Stevenson. Both were from Langholm, in Dumfries and Galloway, and they too were athletes: David was a pole vaulter who was participating at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, as well as previous contests, and Alix was a representative of the 1964 GB Olympic squad in the hurdles, as well as a former hockey player. The inspiration for a unique tartan for the Games, Stillie argued, was ‘the idea of the Commonwealth of Nations as a family unit’. The Games’ newsletter explained its colour scheme as reflecting the diversity of the wider British imperial/Commonwealth ‘clan’:
Basic colours of the tartan are brown, black, white and yellow all interwoven in an attractive pattern, symbolising the harmonious relationships between all peoples of the Commonwealth. Overall, there are three main overchecks showing the red, white and blue of the Union Jack under which the Commonwealth was founded. The blue is of Commonwealth Games origin rather than the colour of the St. Andrew’s Cross of Scotland.
In addition to being an item of merchandise, the tartan would form part of the uniform of Scottish women competitors at the Opening Ceremonies. The publicity campaign for the new tartan featured Scottish swimmer Bobbie Robertson modelling the design on the track of Meadowbank, itself referred to as the ‘tartan’ track (for reasons having nothing to do with its design).
The publications of the Press and Public Relations Committee of the Games, under the direction of A.C. Trotter, former Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers in Scotland, helped to steer perceptions of the Games as a uniquely ‘Scottish’ event. The committee began meeting in January 1968; and, by June, it had come up with tangible proposals and structures for informational publications and revenue raisers. ‘The keynote of all future publicity’, stated Trotter at the first meeting on 30 January 1968, ‘will be that a united Edinburgh is determined to make the 1970 Games the best ever.’ Their publications included brochures discussing amenities, regular newsletters on the progress of the Games, invitations, appeals for funds and a souvenir brochure. The Official Souvenir Brochure, edited by Dunnett, and sold for 6/-, was perhaps the most articulate public document to continually stress the good nature of the Scottish character. While containing plenty of information on Games venues, events and history, pieces such as a Mackie’s one on the Highland games were common: the publication also featured James Drawbell’s ‘A Welcome to Scotland’, Hood’s ‘Scotland, the host country’, Professor Sir Robert Grieve’s ‘Salute to Edinburgh the host City’.
Aside from this, however, other pre-Games publications would continue to emphasise the interrelated character of Scotland’s people and landscape. In part, this was a narrative driven by Trotter and the Press and Public Relations Committee, one aimed more at an overseas and, importantly, a north of England audience, than it was a domestic one. (The Committee did not want to over-saturate the Scottish markets too far ahead of the competition.) Early on, in January 1968, Trotter stated that the primary vehicles for disseminating information on the Games would be the Scottish Tourist Board and the British Travel Association, along with the Commonwealth Press Union, with a special body of London correspondents helping to steer news out of and into Edinburgh. By later that year, in June, Trotter stated that overseas publicity would feature an eight-page full colour folder, to be ready by the end of September for international distribution through the tourism bodies. A hint at the tone of these publications came from Trotter, who emphasised that the folder would be ‘“timeless” in character and will be viable into 1970’. A tourist leaflet issued by the Scottish Tourist Board shortly before the Games hints at the ‘timeless’ element:
There are many facets of Scotland, making a land of infinite variety, from the gentle hills of the Border country to the bold territories of the Highlands, the Islands, and the Far North. Between them, a variety of choice, for everyone, for every taste.
Legend and history, fable and romance are a short walk from anywhere in Scotland.
The same leaflet also made sure to include the remarks of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, President of the British Commonwealth Games Federation, when emphasising that these were ‘The Friendly Games’.
However, the touristic elements of the Games’ marketing obviously hint at a more pragmatic appropriation of Scottish imagery, one to be used for the purposes of advertising Scottish industry internationally. In stark contrast to the way the Games themselves were ‘sold’ locally, which was intended to generate ticket sales and donations, the marketing at the Games was more nakedly aggressive, showcasing Scottish products and industries by placing them within a wider global marketplace. This was achieved in a number of ways; direct advertising around Games’ venues, advertising in programmes and leaflets during events, and in some cases regionally-themed events. The Highlands and Islands Development Board, for example, had their own exhibition in Edinburgh during the Games. For multi-national corporations with strong roots within Scotland, the Games were seen as an opportunity to further burnish their imperial/Commonwealth connections. The Games’ official publications were as much an advertisement for these various businesses as it was about marketing an athletic competition. The Souvenir Brochure, aside from being a document on the Scottish character, was explicitly designed as a commercial marketing tool. Early in 1968, in another effort to secure funding for the Games, the Press and Publicity Committee decided that the ‘sponsorship’ method was the best approach for the brochure; that is, to have sponsors mentioned at the foot of articles, with larger adverts placed at the end of the booklet. Drawbell’s ‘A Welcome to Scotland’, for instance, was sponsored by the British Aluminium Company, with its message including a reference to its newly-built smelter in Invergordon. Grieve’s ‘Salute to Edinburgh the host City’ was sponsored by paper company Wiggins Teape, which advertised recently-built mills at Aberdeen and Fort William, and a forthcoming stationary factory at Dyce. ‘Scotland, the host country’ was appropriately sponsored by the Tartan Gift Shop in on Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping thoroughfare, with other pieces sponsored by Benson and Hedges, Schweppes, BP’s Scottish companies, and Jute Industries Group. Other corporations with adverts at the back of the brochure placed themselves within the industrial environment of the era: the Royal Bank of Scotland’s illustration features depictions of men in heavy industrial work with the tagline ‘Serving the Community…’, appropriate for a booklet which also advertised Scotland’s nationalised gas and coal industries. Others requisitioned ‘Scottish‘ language to the same effect, often wrongly conflating various elements of ‘national’ culture. Burmah Oil welcomed potential clients with ‘Fàilte’, ‘the Scots word for welcome’. (‘Fàilte’ is a Gaelic, not Scots, term.) Dutch department store C&A, on the other hand, pleaded with visitors to come to its Princes Street location: ‘Will ye no take a wee something afore ye go?’, it asked.
The Games’ organisers, however, were also interested in the soft sell. Primarily, this came in the form of the well-organised Welcome Committee. Welcome parties for athletes were to be based at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Prestwick and Heathrow Airports, as well as Edinburgh Waverley railway station. Pipe bands were on hand to welcome the athletes at these locations; each athlete was given a spring of white heather as ‘a symbol of good luck’. The Executive Committee first discussed approaching community organisations to form a Welcome Committee in December 1967; three months later, the Edinburgh Junior Chamber of Commerce was awarded the task. By December 1968, there was already discussion as to which items should be included in a welcome kit, the first of its kind at an Empire or Commonwealth Games. Bags for the kits were provided free of charge by British European Airlines, and brief cases for holding competitor handbooks and tourist information were additionally donated by Coca-Cola. There were additional useful items in the bags, such as soap, toothpaste, shoe laces and a first aid kit, but there were also unique ‘Scottish’ products, like tartan ties, tartan scarves, shortbread, and Edinburgh Rock. Whisky was additionally included, but was held with team managers until after the Games.
‘A spectacular tableau’: the ceremonies of the 1970 Games
The Main Organising Committee were determined to put together events that would further help to sell Scotland to a television audiences throughout the UK and the Commonwealth. The main portion of the Opening Ceremony featured the traditional parade of nations, with the host nation, Scotland, coming out last. Rather than just holding the parade, the Committee organised an accompanying display entitled ‘The Music and Dances of Scotland’. This ‘blaze of colour with a spectacular tableau’, the newsletter stated, had ‘many parallels to the world-famous Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle esplanade each year at Festival time’. The organisers thought this event ‘whetted the audience anticipation of the formal ceremony to follow’. The ceremony had over 700 performers, including ten pipe bands (inclusive of Scottish regimental and municipal police pipe bands), three staff bands from the Royal Marines, Army, and Royal Air Force (RAF), four military bands from Scottish regiments, and over 200 Highlands and Scottish country dancers. It would also feature an RAF fly-past.  Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies also featured gun salutes. The display before the Opening Ceremony, held on 16 July, lasted for forty minutes before the main hour-long event started at 5:00pm.
The Ceremonial Control Headquarters being located within Edinburgh Castle, which doubled the Headquarters of the Army for the Scottish Lowlands region. Unsurprisingly, given the military’s influence, the Ceremony was organised with precision. It featured a variety of orders for personnel and athletes involved in the parade, even down to minute details, such as when to release the ceremonial pigeons. The Closing Ceremony, also lasting an hour, took place after the conclusion and award of the final athletics medals on 25 July. In total, the work of the Ceremonial Committee cost £27,407, though the greatest expenditure here was the price of flags and flag poles: £19,859. In contrast, the bands and dancers, the non-military participants being volunteers, only cost £4,356.
By the end of 1967, the first head of the Ceremonial Committee, Brigadier David McQueen, along with other members of the main organising committee, ordered official films of previous Empire Games – specifically the 1958 (Cardiff), 1962 (Perth, Australia) and 1966 (Kingston, Jamaica) events – ostensibly for viewing typical procedures at the Games’ ceremonial events, although it is logical to assume that organisers wanted something to benchmark their efforts against. From the outset, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were going to be tartan-esque affairs, and would seek conversely to emphasise royal authority and Scotland’s martial tradition. They would begin to take shape by the middle of 1968, when McQueen first enquired about military personnel being used in the Games’ ceremonies. By November, the Army had agreed to provide Scottish-based infantry, military bands, pipes and drums (supplied by civilians) and fanfare from Scots Greys’ trumpeters. In addition, it was agreed that there should also be a Scottish country dancing display and singing from a choir. After acceding to the chairmanship of the ceremonial committee in December 1968, Brigadier Jock Balharrie continued the preparations. (It is worth nothing that Balharrie’s 1995 obituary in the Independent was written by former Labour MP Tam Dalyell, a staunch anti-devolutionist who was also a member of the 1970 Organising Committee.) In his report to the Main Organising Committee on 2 May 1969, Brechin stated: ‘I think it is only proper that these, Scotland’s Games, should be opened with massed pipe bands and plenty of the kilt in evidence.’ The medal ceremonies, meanwhile, would also feature tartanalia. Students from the Dunfermline College of Physical Education would comprise the medal bearers, working as they did in six teams of four. Initially, Balharrie had agreed with the College that ‘clothing emphasis would be upon sport and youth rather than international costume’. The end result, however, was that the (all-female) medal bearers were ‘uniformly dressed in white cashmere dresses with a sash of Commonwealth tartan.’
The political backdrop of the Games
Given the political tensions present at the time of the 1970 Commonwealth Games, it is perhaps surprising that these were not overtly manifested during the Games. The same cannot be said about the run-up to the Games, which was fraught with controversy over every aspect of its organisation, including the music being used for ceremonies, which teams were coming, and where different key political figures were seated within the stadium. The Games, after all, took place in the aftermath of the 1970 General Election. The sickly-sweet quality of the Games’ ‘Scottish’ themes was not taken so earnestly within organisational and political circles. Regarding one possible display at the Opening Ceremony, I.M. Robertson, assessor to the secretary of state for Scotland, was more amused than enthralled
about the possibility of massed displays by children and youth, appropriately dressed and culminating in the formation of a vast saltire. There was also discussion of the possibility of a square (in every sense) choir dressed in white, of massed bands, of a fly-past of aircraft and a fly-past of pigeons (dropping white droppings on a tartan running track).
The above display did not occur in the end. Besides, a great deal of thought went into other aspects so as not to offend domestic political sensibilities. A tempest in a teapot had occurred shortly before the Games, with activists from the Scottish National Party (SNP) demanding that the Scottish team use ‘Scots Wha Hae’ as their victory anthem, rather than ‘God Save the Queen’. ‘Scots Wha Hae’, with its lyrics referencing Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace and the First War of Independence, would make it nowhere near the Games’ ceremonies. Instead, another more globally-famous Robert Burns anthem, ‘Auld Land Syne’, with more universally-applicable lyrics, was sung at the end of the Closing Ceremonies.
By 1970, the SNP had become a legitimate part of the political conversation. It recently experienced a major breakthrough into Westminster politics, with the recent victory of Winifred Ewing in the 1967 Hamilton parliamentary by-election. The party were also galvanised by the recent discovery of North Sea oil, linking it to an ability to finance an independent Scottish state. But in effect, the ceremonies on display at the 1970 Commonwealth Games reflected the unionist (small ‘u’) consensus of Scottish politics during the period, dominated as it was by the Labour Party, and with a healthy minority for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, and the Liberals a distant third. The SNP, despite winning only one seat in the June 1970 election, would increasingly begin to harness dissatisfaction with the Scottish Conservatives. Scotland’s independently-minded ‘Unionists’ had recently been absorbed into the wider British Conservative Party during the reorganisation of 1965. The restricted appeal of the Unionists, who even managed to win a majority of the Scottish vote in 1955, were tied to a Protestant working-class that was rapidly shrinking by the 1960s and 1970s due to deindustrialisation. The SNP were the primary beneficiaries, and they managed to win a total of eleven MPs in the two general elections of 1974.
The truth was that displays of consensus were rare in the run-up to the Games, which were almost subject to a boycott of nations organised by the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) in protest at the South African cricket team’s invitation to England by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). This was part of a decades-long sporting and cultural campaign directed at the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia. Only a last-minute cancellation of the tour, forced upon the MCC by the Labour government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, allowed the Games to go on with full participation. By May, contingency plans were already in place for any demonstrations, which were initially encouraged by Wilson himself, to take place during the Games.
Labour would be voted out of office just before the Games began, and Conservatives – in this case, Prime Minister Edward Heath and Secretary of State for Scotland Gordon Campbell – would take their places in the Royal Box. This was despite the appearance of previous Scottish secretary, William Ross, in one of the introductions to the Official Souvenir Brochure; the document had already gone to the printers when the June 1970 election occurred.
Even Prince Philip hinted at these tensions. In his opening lines in a letter enclosed with the Games’ Official History, Philip stated that:
For a time, before the Games started, things looked a bit uncertain, but from the moment the dramatic opening ceremony began to unfold before the delighted eyes of spectators at Meadowbank and at home everyone knew that it was going to be a great Commonwealth Games.
The Royal Family served as one of the centrepieces of the ceremonial events. Queen Elizabeth II was the patron of the British Commonwealth Games Federation, and Philip was its president. The Queen’s Scottish seat, Holyrood Palace, was in the neighbourhood of Meadowbank; and Philip’s title, the Duke of Edinburgh, held an additional layer of symbolism for the Games’ organisers. (Intriguingly, the Official History refers to Prince Charles as ‘His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’, rather than by his more commonly-used Scottish title, the Duke of Rothesay.) The Queen’s Message Relay was initiated by the Queen in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, on 8 July 1970, and its baton was received by Brechin at Prestwick Airport two days later. One of the Philip’s responsibilities during the Opening Ceremony was to read out the Queen’s Message, which was received from its final relay point by Jim Alder, the Scottish gold medal winner in the marathon at the 1966 games. Afterwards, the athletes collectively took their oath. The Queen, meanwhile, declared the Games closed during the Closing Ceremonies; and, afterwards, the Queen and Princess Anne were taken out of Meadowbank in a horse-drawn carriage that was quickly surrounded by the athletes, not according to plan.  Elizabeth, Philip, Charles, and Anne attended various events during the Games, and the arrangements for the visits – including those necessary with the press and television – were the subject of a large body of correspondence between Games’ officials and Buckingham Palace, and the royal programme of visits was meticulously timed and choreographed for a television audience.
The official correspondence within the files of the organising committee does not reveal any explicit party-political motive for the use of the Royal Family within the Games’ ceremonies, though their appearance at the Games, within an over-the-top celebration of ‘Scottishness’ in the context of ‘Britishness’, was certainly not apolitical. It is logical to assume that the Windsors were strategically deployed for a similar purpose to their appearances in Wales during the late 1960s: as a means of curtailing the growing popularity of the pro-independence Plaid Cymru.
Political infighting stretched to several different aspects of the programme, including seating in the Royal Box (garishly covered in tartan): plans for the Closing Ceremony‘s seating arrangements initially did not include Scottish Secretary Campbell or the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Michael Adeane. They got seats (at the expense of Brechin’s and Heatly’s wives), although it was also highlighted that: ‘A point to be noted, of course, is that Mrs. Campbell would not be in the Royal Box.’ Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Sir James McKay, the Prime Minister, McKay’s wife, and Campbell were arranged to sit to the Queen’s right, while the British Commonwealth Games Federation’s Chairman Alexander Ross, Charles, Ross’s wife, Heatly, and Adeane sat to the Queen’s left. (Anne would later replace Charles.) Games’ officials and their wives, then, initially had seating precedence over Scotland’s highest-ranked elected official, who was only included at the insistence of Buckingham Palace, rather than the Main Organising Committee themselves. Being in the company of the Royal Family, then, was seen as a powerful status symbol for the Games’ organisers.
The Ceremonies displayed something of a false unity which had little to do with the fragmented reality of British domestic politics, as well as Commonwealth geopolitics in the 1960s and 1970s. This was far from the happy ‘Commonwealth family’ portrayed in the official literature.
Until now, the 1970 British Commonwealth Games has been unquestionably represented as one of the most successful Games held in Britain. It has perhaps benefitted from being compared with the controversial 1986 Commonwealth Games, which were also held in Edinburgh. Indeed on paper, the 1970 Games were successful. They were attended by 1,383 competitors, from 42 countries: all events ran smoothly, and the Games received positive press nationally. However, as we have seen in this paper, if one scratches beneath the surface, it is evident that this was an event fraught with complexity and tension. Most major diplomatic confrontations were avoided in 1970; however, subsequent Games proved to be less immune to overt political controversy.
The 1970 Games presented Scotland conservatively, drawing on heavily romanticised visions of what ‘Scottishness’ was, rather than the contemporary domestic and international political, social or cultural realities. While some researchers have examined the relationship between sport and Scottish national identity, very few have examined the specific links between ‘Scottishness’ and the marketing of sporting events held in the country. With the exception of Magee, little has been written about Scotland’s relationship with the Commonwealth Games, despite the fact that, after 2014, Scotland will have hosted the event three times. We hope that this article will encourage scholars to examine more closely the role of the United Kingdom within the Commonwealth Games.
 The notable exception is Karl Magee, ‘Boycotts and Bailouts: The Archives of the Commonwealth Games Council of Scotland’, African Research and Documentation 116 (2011).
 Michael Dawson, ‘Acting Global, Thinking Local: “Liquid Imperialism” and the Multiple Meanings of the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games’, International Journal of the History of Sport 23 (1) (February 2006): 3-27; Daniel Gorman, ‘Amateurism, Imperialism, Internationalism and the First British Empire Games’, International Journal of the History of Sport 27 (4) (March 2010): 611-34.
 William Carmichael and M. McIntyre Hood (eds.), The Official History of the IXth British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh, Scotland, 16-25 July, 1970 (Edinburgh: The Organising Committee of the IXth British Commonwealth Games, 1970), 13
 Ibid., 13-14.
 Charlotte MacDonald, Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011).
 Kevin Jefferys, Sport and Politics in Modern Britain: The Road to 2012, (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), 77-123.
 Martin Polley, Moving the Goalposts: a History of Sport and Society Since 1945, (London: Routledge: 1998) 18-19.
 Ibid., 11.
 David Black, ‘Dreaming big: The pursuit of “second order” games as a strategic response to globalization’, Sport in Society 11 (4) (2008): 467-80.
 National Records of Scotland (NRS), ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, Main Organising Committee (MOC) (1968-1970), Progress Report by Sir Herbert A. Brechin, 2 May 1969.
 110,000 and a further 92,000 leaflets and a further 40,000 promoting local tourist attractions. Official History of the IXth British Commonwealth Games, (Anon, ), 91; NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-69), 1.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-69), Official Rotary Speech, 18 February 1969.
 Approx. 6,000 of each newsletter were produced. NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Press and Public Relations Committee (PPRC).
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 91.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games, News Letter 4 (September 1969), 4.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 36.
 Ibid., 91.
 Ibid., 95
 Ibid., 91
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), PPRC, ‘Scotland 70’ (information leaflet).
 IXth British Commonwealth Games, Handbook for Competitors, 1970, 11.
 Ian Brown (ed.), From Tartan to Tartanry: Scottish Culture, History, Myth (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010). In this collection see especially J. Mark Percival, ‘Rock, Pop and Tartan’, 195-211; Hugh O’Donnell, ‘Class Warriors or Generous Men in Skirts? The Tartan Army in the Scottish and Foreign Press’, 212-32.
 Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism, 2nd edition (London: Verso, 1977, 1981), 148-69. ‘Kailyard’ refers to a genre of popular Scottish literature which romanticises Scottish history and geography, and it is highly controversial in Scottish cultural circles. For more information, see: Richard Cook, ‘The Home-ly Kailyard Nation: Nineteenth-Century Narratives of the Highland and the Myth of Merrie Auld Scotland’, English Literary History 66 (4) (1999): 1053-73.
 Colin McArthur, ‘Scotland and Cinema: the Iniquity of the Fathers’, in Colin McArthur (ed.), Scotch Reels: Scotland in Cinema and Television (London: BFI Publishing, 1982), 40-69.
 Grant Jarvie, Highland Games: The Making of the Myth (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991); Tanja Bueltmann, ‘Manly Games, Athletic Sport and the Commodification of Scottish Identity: Caledonian Gatherings in New Zealand to 1915’, Scottish Historical Review LXXXIX (2) (October 2010): 224-47.
 Albert Mackie, ‘Highland Games and their history’, ed. Alastair Dunnett, IXth British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh July 1970: Official Souvenir Brochure 6/- (Glasgow: MacLehose, 1970): 49-51.
 Alasdair Durie, Scotland for the Holidays: Tourism in Scotland, c. 1780-1939 (Edinburgh: Tuckwell, 2003); Ian Yeoman et al., ‘Capturing the essence of a brand from its history: The case of Scottish tourism marketing’, Journal of Brand Management 13 (2) (November 2005): 134-47.
 Stuart Kelly, Scott-land: The Man Who Invented Scotland (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2010), 198-211.
 Anon., Scotland 1970: A representation from the British Empire & Commonwealth Games Council conveying a cordial invitation to hold the Ninth British Empire & Commonwealth Games, 1970, in Scotland.
 Ibid., 22-23.
 Ibid., 23-24.
 Matthew L. McDowell, ‘“That little sugarloaf island”: Ailsa Craig, romance, reality and the branding of Scottish sport and leisure, 1707-2013’, Sport in History 34, no. 2 (2014): 249-75.
 NRS, ED27/477 – British Commonwealth Games (BCG) 1970, Executive Committee (EC) (1967-68), Minute of Meeting of Executive Committee (EC), 11 December 1967.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Minute of Meeting of EC, 18 January 1968.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 4 (September 1969).
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Minute of Meeting of Legal and Concessions Committee (LCC), 13 March 1968.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 4 (September 1969).
 Tara Magdalinski, ‘“Cute, Loveable Characters”: The Place and Significance of Mascots in the Olympic Movement’, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies XIII (2004): 75-92.
 Mike McGuinness, ‘Some Reflections on Representations of the English Football Team through Ephemera from the 1966 World Cup to the Present’, Idrottsforum, 30 March 2011, http://www.idrottsforum.org/articles/mcguinness/mcguinness110330.html (accessed 21 January 2014)
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Report by Councillor Magnus Williamson on talk with Walter Tuckwell & Co., London, 27 December 1967.
 NRS, ED27/506 – BCG 1970, EC (1969-70), Minute of the Meeting of the EC, 22 January 1969, Minute of the Meeting of the EC, 10 March 1969.
 Edinburgh Evening News, 29 April 1970.
 Glasgow Herald, 27 July 1970.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Invitation to Tender for Medals, 1 March 1968.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, Main Organising Committee (MOC) (1968-1970), Progress Report by Sir Herbert A. Brechin, 2 May 1969.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 9 (May 1970); Edinburgh Evening News, 29 April 1970.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 9 (May 1970); Sharon Liptrott, ‘Freedom honour for David Stevenson’, Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 16 March 2012; ‘Former Olympian Opens New Stadium’, Hutchesons’ Grammar School, 16 December 2009, www.hutchesons.org/news/769 (accessed 26 August 2013).
 Edinburgh Evening News, 29 April 1970.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 9 (May 1970).
 Ibid., Edinburgh Evening News, 29 April 1970.
 NRS, ED27/476 – BCG 1970, MOC (1967-70), Report on progress by Sir Herbert A. Brechin, 28 May 1970.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Press and Public Relations Committee (PPRC), Report by A.C. Trotter to the MOC, 30 January 1968.
 Dunnett (ed), Official Souvenir Brochure, 8-15.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), PPRC, 20 June 1968.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), PPRC, 30 January 1968.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), PPRC, 20 June 1968.
 Scottish Tourist Board, ‘IXth British Commonwealth Games Edinburgh Scotland 16-25 July’.
 The Highlands and Islands Development Board, Invitation to the Highlands and Islands Exhibition, undated.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Minute of the Publications Sub-Committee of the PPRC, 18 January 1968.
 Dunnett (ed), Official Souvenir Brochure, 9. For more on the historical aluminium industry in the Highlands, see Andrew Perchard, Aluminiumville: government, global business and the Scottish Highlands (Lancaster: Crucible, 2012).
 Ibid., 12.
 Ibid., 15, 20, 27, 31, 44.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, 28 May 1970, Report by the Chairman of the Welcome Committee (WC).
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Meeting of the EC, 11 December 1967.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, Report by the Chairman of the Village Committee, 19 December 1968.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 118-21.
 Ibid., NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, Report by the Chairman of the WC, 28 May 1970.
 IXth British Commonwealth Games News Letter 5 (January 1970).
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 49.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Report by the Chairman of the Ceremonial Committee (CC), 5 November 1969.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Report by the Chairman of CC, 5 November 1969.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 391-403.
 Ibid., 68-71.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), EC, 11 December 1967.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Report by the Chairman of CC, 20 June 1968.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, 14 November 1968.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, 19 December 1968.
 Tam Dalyell, ‘Obituary: Brigadier Jock Balharrie’, Independent, 15 February 1995.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Report to the MOC by Sir Herbert A. Brechin, 2 May 1969.
 NRS ED27/492, BCG 1970, EC (1970), EC, 23 April 1970.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 23-24.
 NRS, ED27/477 – BCG 1970, EC (1967-68), Letter from I.M. Robertson to Mr. Weatherson, copy to Mr. Kidd (first names not available), undated (presumed January 1968).
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), Meeting the General Purposes Committee, 23 February 1970.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 403.
 Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics, 1707-present, 3rd edition (London: Routledge, 1977, 1994, 1998), 169-97.
 Catriona M.M. Macdonald, Whaur Extremes Meet: Scotland’s Twentieth Century (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2009), 216-41; Ewen A. Cameron, Impaled Upon a Thistle: Scotland Since 1880 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 263-88.
 Bruce Kidd, ‘The Campaign against Sport in South Africa’, International Journal 43 (4) (Autumn 1988): 643-64; Charles Little, ‘The sports boycott against Rhodesia reconsidered’, Sport in Society 14 (2) (2011): 193-207.
 Bruce K. Murray, ‘The Sports Boycott and Cricket: The Cancellation of the 1970 South African Tour of England’, South African Historical Journal 46 (May 2002): 219-49; Aviston D. Downes, ‘Sport and International Diplomacy: The Case of the Commonwealth Caribbean and the Anti-Apartheid Campaign, 1959-1992’, Sports Historian 22 (November 2002): 23-45. An examination of the Scottish responses to boycott during the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games will be the subject of future work by the authors. For more information on 1986, see Magee, ‘Boycotts and Bailouts’.
 NRS, ED27/380/1 – BCG 1970, MOC (1968-1970), MOC, 28 May 1970.
 Official Souvenir Brochure, 4.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, inside cover.
 Ibid., 27-28.
 Carmichael and Hood (eds.), Official History, 54-57.
 Ibid., 54-57.
 NRS, SOE3/546 – BCG 1970 – Visits by The Queen to the Commonwealth Games (VTQCG).
 Martin Johnes, Wales since 1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012), 179-240.
 NRS, SOE3/546 – BCG 1970 –VTQCG, R.C. Allan, COMMONWEALTH GAMES – CLOSING CEREMONY ON SATURDAY 25 JULY.
 Magee, ‘Boycotts and Bailouts’.
 Ibid. See also Donald Macintosh, Donna Greenhorn and David Black, ‘Canadian Diplomacy and the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games’, Journal of Sport History 19 (1) (Spring 1992): 26-55.