Author JK Rowling donates $1.68 million to fight Scottish independence
FILE- British author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers at the Southbank Centre in London, in this file photo dated Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Author of the Harry Potter series of books, J.K. Rowling is having second thoughts about the romantic content for the characters in her Potter books, in an interview published Sunday Feb. 2, 2014, Rowling reveals she chose the relationships for very personal reasons, "as a form of wish fulfillment", and having little to do with literature. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, FILE)
In this photo taken March 15, 2014 a lone piper plays in a street in Edinburgh, as Scotland gets ready for the upcoming vote on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland's swithering "middle million" has Britain's future in its hands. "Swithering" means wavering, and it's a word you hear a lot in Scotland right now. Six months from Tuesday, Scottish voters must decide whether their country should become independent, breaking up Great Britain as it has existed for 300 years. Faced with the historic choice, many find their hearts say "aye" but their heads say "why risk it?" Polls suggest as many as a quarter of Scotland's 4 million voters remain undecided, and their choice will determine the outcome. Many long to cut the tie binding them to England, but fear the risks _ and the financial fallout. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
In this photo taken March 15, 2014 a man carries a placard during a pro-independence march in Edinburgh, Scotland for the upcoming vote on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland's swithering "middle million" has Britain's future in its hands. "Swithering" means wavering, and it's a word you hear a lot in Scotland right now. Six months from Tuesday, Scottish voters must decide whether their country should become independent, breaking up Great Britain as it has existed for 300 years. Faced with the historic choice, many find their hearts say "aye" but their heads say "why risk it?" Polls suggest as many as a quarter of Scotland's 4 million voters remain undecided, and their choice will determine the outcome. Many long to cut the tie binding them to England, but fear the risks _ and the financial fallout. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
Scottish first Minister Alex Salmond delivers a lecture on Scottish independence in central London, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Britain's leadership has warned Scotland that if it votes later this year to leave the U.K., then the new country walks away from the pound. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
British Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he speaks to the media on the importance of Scotland to the UK, at the velodrome in Olympic Park, London, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Scotland is to vote on its independence in a referendum in Sept. 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Bank of England governor Mark Carney gives a speech in Edinburgh, Scotland Wednesday Jan. 29, 2014. Carney spoke on the question of whether Scotland would be able to use the pound should it become independent, saying a successful currency union would require giving up some sovereignty. Independence advocates say they want to continue to use the pound as the country's currency if the Scottish people vote for separation in 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Watt, Pool)
(Reuters) - JK Rowling, Britain's best-selling author and creator of teenage wizard Harry Potter, has donated 1 million pounds ($1.68 million) to the campaign against Scottish independence, saying on Wednesday she believed Scotland was better off staying in the United Kingdom.
Rowling lives in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh where she wrote the first of the Potter series in a local cafe and will be among about four million Scottish residents to decide on Sept. 18 whether to end the 307-year tie to England.
Rowling said she was concerned about the economic impact of going alone, with Scotland's oil and gas reserves being depleted and an ageing population, becoming the latest in a string of celebrities to wade into the increasingly heated debate.
"The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks," she wrote on her website.
Rowling said she knew her stance might put her in the firing line of a fringe of aggressive nationalists whom she compared to Death Eaters, followers of Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.
"While a few of our fiercer nationalists might like to drive me forcibly over the border after reading this, I'd prefer to stay and contribute to a country that has given me more than I can easily express," she wrote.
"I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake."
A spokesman for the Better Together campaign confirmed Rowling had donated 1 million pounds to the fight to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom which is the biggest donation yet to the pro-union campaign that is leading in opinion polls.
The largest donation to the team fighting for independence has come from Britain's biggest lottery winners, Scottish couple Colin and Chris Weir, who have given about 3.5 million pounds from their 2011 winnings of 161 million pounds.
Rowling, who was born in England but has lived in Scotland for 21 years, first went public with her opposition to Scottish independence in 2012 but her statement on Wednesday spelt out her thinking.
She said she believed Scotland was more powerful in global markets as part of the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland and was concerned about Scotland's relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom if it broke away.
"If we leave ... there will be no going back. This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours," she wrote.
Other celebrities publicly to oppose independence include singer David Bowie who appealed to Scotland to stay with the United Kingdom at an awards ceremony in February and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly who said it was a time to stay together.
But other big Scottish names are backing independence including James Bond actor Sean Connery, a long-term nationalist who said independence was too good an opportunity to miss.
One major Scottish celebrity, tennis player Andy Murray, has refused to take sides in the debate, although he admitted this week that he did not like Scottish leader Alex Salmond holding up Scotland's blue and white flag, the Saltire, behind Prime Minister David Cameron when he won Wimbledon last year.
Opinion polls currently suggest Scots are reluctant to break away although support for independence has risen this year.
A TNS poll on Wednesday showed 42 percent of voters opposed independence while 30 percent were in favour and 28 percent undecided. The numbers were unchanged from a month ago.