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Scotlands,Flora McDonald

Flora'sGrave.jpg (8705 bytes)It has been said that there was a brief romance between Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and Flora MacDonald of Benbecula during the summer of 1746. The 'romance' being in the nervous and brave adventure as opposed to long tender looks between the two chief players.
For two months Charles, being on the run, had been flitting from hiding place to hiding place in the Outer Isles before he and Flora met. Now had it not been for a Kinswoman of Flora's the two may never have met at all!
There were three ways of regarding the Prince of Scotland; there were the heart-loyal people who believed implicitly in father's divine Right to be King and were prepared to spill their last drop of blood for him; there were those who found the whole escapade frightening and unsettling after 30 years of the Hanovers and either fought firmly against the Jacobites or subscribed to letters of gratitude and hero-worship sent in their name to the man others called 'Butcher Cumberland'; the third group were honest people, content enough with the stodgy Georges who had given them a kind of peace, people who had kin serving in their armies or in the King's Government, but who would not have sent to death a bonnie Stuart beauty like the Pretender Prince, not for all the ransom money offered by their government.
Now Flora MacDonald was of the last ilk. She was not pinning away for the Bonnie Prince but deeply in love with her husband to be Allan MacDonald who was a redcoat officer throughout the campaign. As her foster-father, Clanranald, was also in command of King George's troopers on Benbecula. Flora would never have seen the Prince Betrayed though she sympathized not with the Jacobites.
It came about one day that Flora was asked to do more than just 'Not Betray' the Bonnie Prince as she was young, healthy, full of spirit and practical she seemed, to those on the inside, to be the most likely young woman on the island to guide Charles on the next perilous stage of his journey to find refuge on the mainland. When a Captain of the Troop first approached her she prudently refused.
It was decided. Flora and Lady Clanranald prepared the clothing for her big, rawboned Irish Maid 'Betty Burke'. The gowns, the petticoats, the snood, cloak and white cap were a perfect fit, all was well bar the big clumsy boots which almost gave the game away. The stage was set.
June 20th 1746 was the day that the young Prince and Flora finally met and after a week of hiding they were ready to leave. Horror struck as news reached them that General Campbell had landed on the island with orders to search for the escaping Prince, and bring him down! But whether the General was tired or unbecoming of his role as hunter, or whether he simply hated traitors no one knows, but he disregarded the advice from the local Reverend Mr Macauley as to the residence of the Prince - and did not complete his orders.
When finally the boat left, Miss Flora MacDonald - Neil MacDonald - and the strange looking 'Betty Burke' slipped away into the night across the Minch. As for General Campbell, well he was no where to be seen, or at least no where near the fleeing Prince.
And so the story ends, Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped the red coats under command of General Campbell. Some folks say, or would like to think, that a romance had blossomed between young Flora and the Bonnie Prince, but if one thing is true it is this: whether there was a love between the two, or whether Flora had converted to the Jacobite cause, simply knowing that she did indeed put her life on the line for the fleeing Prince is romance enough for most.

Flora's grave is on The Isle of Skye



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