Call to ditch Fort road name with link to Prince Andrew

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Fort William residents are being asked to back a petition urging Highland Council to ditch the name of a road in the town due to its connection with Prince Andrew who is facing a civil sex assault case in the United States.

One of Prince Andrew’s titles is Earl of Inverness and controversy has sprung up over the road of the same name into Inverlochy, which comes off the North Road roundabout on the A82 in Fort William.

As well as being the Duke of York, Prince Andrew has held the title of Earl of Inverness since 1986, following his marriage to Sarah Ferguson. There is now a growing clamour of calls for him to also be stripped of that title.

Prince Andrew pictured with the Queen in a carriage on the way to Ascot in 2017. NO-F03-Prince-Andrew-with-Queen
Prince Andrew pictured with the Queen in a carriage on the way to Ascot in 2017.

Prince Andrew has consistently denied the allegations. However, Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, has said it is unthinkable for the Queen’s second son to continue as the Earl of Inverness in the current circumstances.

The petition concerning the road in Fort William states: ‘In light of the negative and controversial publicity surrounding Prince Andrew, Duke of York, aka Earl of Inverness and the resultant punitive action taken by HM The Queen we, the residents of Fort William, call on Highland Council to rename the road currently known as Earl of Inverness Road.

‘We ask that after consultation the road name has a popular local connection. To date popular suggestions are (Willie) MacKillop Way, (Sandy) MacDonald Road and School Brae.

‘We ask that these names be included in the consultation process. Supporting information can be supplied.’

The petition, which is on the Change.org website, was started by local resident, Donald ‘Skeegan’ Cameron. Although it has been slow to garner a lot of support as yet, the issue was due to be discussed by Fort William community councillors on Tuesday night.

The possibility of altering the name of the road was also talked about by Highland Council elected ward members for Fort William and Ardnamurchan on Monday.

One of them, Councillor Andrew Baxter, told the Lochaber Times on Tuesday: ‘I’ve asked that council officers provide details as to the process that must be followed to change a street name following contact from constituents.

‘The local community council is always consulted on the naming of new roads and we would want them to be involved in any discussion about renaming.

‘Councillors briefly discussed this yesterday and agreed to wait until confirmation of the process before considering further.’

Asked why he felt the need to get the name of the road changed, Mr Cameron told us: ‘There appears to be a groundswell of opinion locally to remove the name of the road. Given that HM The Queen has stripped her son of the HRH title and honorary military appointments it seems appropriate for Highland Council to follow suit.

‘A number of alternative names have been suggested and hopefully after consultation one will be adopted.’

Former local councillor Brian Murphy has signed the petition and says even without the current controversy, the road name should be changed to something with more of a local connection.

‘Mr Murphy told us this week: ‘The name Earl of Inverness Road doesn’t have any relevance to Inverlochy.

The Earl of Inverness Road at the entrance to Inverlochy. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Earl of Inverness Road petition 01
The Earl of Inverness Road at the entrance to Inverlochy. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

‘It was always known locally as School Brae – certainly when I was a pupil at Inverlochy Primary School in the 1950s, everybody knew it as School Brae, as did subsequent generations.’

Mr Murphy says he did not know for sure when the sign bearing the name Earl of Inverness Road first appeared.

‘It might have been about 20 years ago, possibly – I can’t say exactly when. But I don’t think it was put up at the request of locals.

‘But even if there wasn’t this current stushie involving Prince Andrew, I think the name should be changed to something with more of a local connection.

‘I think it should’ve been changed to something more local a while ago, but this situation now maybe will see more of a push for that to be done.’

Asked to comment, Highland Council said: ‘On the matter of the title of the Earl of Inverness we have no comment – that is a matter for the Palace.

‘The council has a petitions procedure – details of which and how to petition the council are on our website at this link.’