According to historical literature, Clementina Walkinshaw met Bonnie Prince Charlie in January of 1746 as he retreated towards Culloden. But the story plotter’s question is why Charlie left Glasgow and his troops to go to Bannockburn near Stirling to visit? Clementina grew up in France where her father was an exile after the 1715 affair and, for a novel, that’s where they met. Those who have been forced to leave the environment they grew up in to find work will know the kind of influence it has over them and how eagerly they greet someone from the same background. It would make a good back story if the pair had met and played together in France so that when Charlie heard from her father, in Glasgow, that Clementina was with her uncle in Stirling, he would naturally want to visit. Being in Glasgow would not be congenial. Glasgow was already a thriving commercial port and taking tottering steps to becoming an industrial one, not the kind of place to welcome someone who was disrupting the easy flow of business. In addition, the Highlanders were in retreat, ragged and starving, and we have seen in the riots over the last ten years how people in that situation loot and destroy. Charlie would be glad to get away, especially to visit an old friend. This idea of an old friendship is reinforced when Charlie becomes ill and seeks comfort with Clementina at Bannockburn. For the story, they would fall genuinely in love and there would be an anguished farewell scene, then the worry if Charlie will be caught among the glens and mists of the Highlands after Culloden. Charlie, depressed and rejected on his return to France, writes to Clementina asking her to join him. However, in the new environment, among the French aristocracy with their powdered wigs, the relationship between a prince and a merchant’s daughter is different.
There’s a lot of meat in this story but where is it going? It has to be about a woman’s courage. Maybe after a bit more plotting it will fall into place.
The Stuarts