With just a few days to go before Scotland votes on independence, Queen Elizabeth II has spoken out on the issue for the first time. In what opponents of independence have interpreted as a statement of firm support for their No campaign, the monarch told a well-wisher outside a Scottish church that people should "think very carefully about the future" before voting, the Guardian reports. The queen—who will remain in place as Scotland's monarch however the vote goes—is on vacation at her Balmoral estate in Scotland and is expected to be there for the next three weeks.
Supporters of the pro-independence Yes campaign say the monarch's remarks were politically neutral. "Her Majesty is echoing the message from Yes Scotland to all voters—to think very carefully about this one opportunity that Scotland will have on Thursday to choose our future," a spokesman tells the Telegraph. Both sides held large rallies over the weekend, with polls showing Yes and No neck and neck, reports Reuters. Pro-independence leader Alex Salmond accuses the British establishment of panicking as the Yes side gains momentum, while the No campaign warns of economic uncertainty and possible breakdown if Scotland splits from the UK. (Read more Scotland stories.)