The Queen has broken her silence on the Scottish referendum in a conversation with a well-wisher, Sky News understands.
She reportedly told a member of the public as she left church in Scotland this morning: “I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”
Last week the Queen insisted she did not wish to influence the independence vote, saying the issue was “a matter for the people of Scotland”.
Supporters of the No campaign had called on her to intervene, following reports she was growing increasingly concerned over the prospect of a split.
But Buckingham Palace insisted she has not expressed any preference ahead of Thursday’s vote.
“The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign,” a spokesperson said.
“As such the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure that this remains the case.
“Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong.
“Her Majesty is firmly of the view that this is a matter for the people of Scotland. “
Earlier, aformer head of the British Army said an independent Scotland would struggle to build a “meaningful defence capability”.
Lord Dannatt, who was chief of the general staff between 2006 and 2009, told Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan: “We are much better together.
“I really worry that Scotland will struggle to have any meaningful defence capability. Armies, Navies and Air Forces… you can’t grow them overnight.
“Scotland will be putting itself in a poor place in external defence and security terms if it chooses to fragment from the rest of us.”
Lord Dannatt said he feared a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum could also be “letting down” Scottish soldiers who died during fighting in Northern Ireland.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, he said more than 100 Scottish members of the armed forces had fought and died defending the UK during the Troubles.
“I wonder just how much thought, appreciation and recognition is given to the memory of those who have fought and brought this United Kingdom of ours to where it is today, and where it could be in the future,” he asked.
Lord Dannat’s remarks have been dismissed by both the Yes and No campaigns.
Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Murnaghanthey “bordered on being offensive and insulting”
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: “Many British soldiers have given their lives over the years to defeat fascism and then to defend democracy and let’s be absolutely clear: what we are witnessing here in Scotland on Thursday is an exercise in democracy.”
With four days to go before the referendum, the latest opinion polls show the Yes and No campaigns are still neck and neck.