COVID-19 Advice regarding restrictions ahead of Royal visit to Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

The correspondence (in whatever form it takes) between the Scottish Government and representatives of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge relating to their December 2020 visit to Scotland on the royal train. Could I please have all documentation relating to this visit including the advice the Scottish Government gave on covid restrictions and any correspondence arising from that advice?


I enclose a copy of some of the information you have requested. You will see that personal data has been redacted. This is because an exemption under section 38 (1) (b) of FOISA (personal information) applies. Disclosing personal information would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest test in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest test in applying the exemption.

An exemption under section 30 (b) (ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for this purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with the Royal Household on such matters will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe those views are likely to be made public.

An exemption under section 41 (a) of FOISA (communications with Her Majesty, the Royal Family or the Royal Household) also applies to some of the information requested because it relates to communication with the Royal Household. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case we have considered the public interest test in applying the exemption. We have found, that on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the information.

We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the greater public interest in protecting a channel of communication between the Scottish Government, and the Royal Household. Disclosing the content of such communications, particularly against the wishes of the Royal Household, is likely to mean the future communications will be less open and less frequent, with less exchange of information of matters of mutual interest, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI-202000121424 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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