Who we are
The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs today represents the majority of Scottish chiefs – those who are head of the Name and Arms of their clan or family and who have taken up membership through invitation. There are now 135 chiefs who are members.
The SCSC was founded in 1951 by the then Lord High Constable of Scotland, the Countess of Erroll and Chief of the Hays, as a forum to consider matters affecting Scottish chiefs and to represent their views and interests to government, media and public. This included, and still does, protecting the Arms and other insignia from exploitation or misuse. The close relationship with the Lord Lyon and the appointed Lyon Court Officers is essential and remains integral.
What we do
The role of the Standing Council has, however, expanded considerably in recent years. We are not a political body and do not comment on political matters. But we have ensured the development of a working relationship with the Scottish Government at Cabinet level, notably in the sustainable promotion of ancestral tourism; as well as participation in the biennial Themed Years, including the Year of Young People (2018). Coasts and Waters (2020) and, to follow, Scotland’s Stories (2022).
While celebrating Scotland’s history and heritage, we are pleased to be part – and to be motivators – of a valuable and growing contribution to the Scottish economy. Kinship is an asset. It is both historical and forward-looking. Our members represent that asset: one that attracts significant inward investment, human as well as financial.
Individually, the chiefs continue to see their primary responsibility as being towards their own kindreds and engaging directly with the activities of their clan and family societies and associations. Collectively, the Standing Council is able to engage across a wider field. This ranges from the commemoration of significant events in the nation’s history, for example the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden (by raising funds, the SCSC made donations worth almost £20,000 to armed services charities) and, in 2021 (postponed from 2020), the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath
to the more contemporary, the organisation under SCSC leadership of the spectacular clan and family marches at the Edinburgh Tattoo, both in Scotland and in Australia.
Our kindred Links
It is estimated that there are some 50 million people around the world who identify themselves as Scots or who have a Scottish heritage. Many of them express that identity through membership of their distinct surname groups. The Standing Council has naturally developed close relationships with clan and family associations overseas. We value our links with the Scottish Australian Heritage Council (SAHC), the Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada (CASSOC) and, in the US, the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA). SCSC members are regularly invited to be “Chieftains of the Games” wherever Scottish identity and pride in our heritage is celebrated: notably, though not only, throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. On significant anniversaries in Washington and New York, the Standing Council has also ensured high level support for Tartan Day.
Drawing strength and inspiration from Scotland’s extraordinary past, the ability of all Scots to navigate the challenges of the future rests on firm foundations: a knowledge of who we are and where we came from. The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs embodies through its members a role of leadership. We are committed to exercising that role responsibly; and to playing our part, for this generation and the next, in contributing to Scotland’s future.
By Donald MacLaren of MacLaren