On Saturday October 9, two very different events will take place in Edinburgh.
The first is the official opening of the new Â£431 million parliament building. A thousand people will take part in a "riding" - a procession down the Royal Mile to the parliament building that lies at its foot.
The presiding officer of the parliament, SNP MSP George Reid, has promised that this will be a day that belongs to the Scottish people. Each of the 129 MSPs in the riding has nominated a constituent to process alongside them down the Royal Mile.
Marching with them will be bands, community groups with their banners, speakers and presiding officers from across Europe and the Commonwealth and 48 members of the public chosen by public ballot. Oh - and Sir Sean Connery will be there too.
When they get to the foot of the Royal Mile, the notables among them will funnel into the building's debating chamber where the Queen will officially conduct the opening of the new parliament, no doubt flanked by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles.
However, as the Queen gives her royal stamp of approval to the parliament and to her loyal subjects, a very different event - an alternative opening ceremony - will be taking place not far away, on Edinburgh's Calton Hill.
Calton Hill was long identified as the popular choice for the site of a Scottish Parliament. It was rejected by new Labour on the grounds that it was a "nationalist shibboleth."
Whatever else devolution was designed to do, it was not meant to give any encouragement to nationalists.
The organisers of the alternative opening ceremony are the Scottish Socialist Party group in the parliament, which is boycotting the official opening and encouraging others to join them in their call for an independent Scottish republic.
They denounce the "royal pantomime" and the parade down the Royal Mile "behind a feudal figurehead who symbolises elitism, privilege and deference."
They are also asking Scots to sign up on the day to a strongly worded Declaration of Calton Hill that is socialist, republican, anti-war, anti-racist, feminist and nationalist.
It clearly is not the kind of statement likely to win majority support among those taking part in the official opening.
It is more than likely that the attention of Scotland's media and press will focus exclusively on the official opening and ignore entirely the alternative event taking place on Calton Hill.
Mainstream politics are now so narrowly based as to exclude as extremist and irrelevant any politics that is not pro-business and pro-parliamentary institutions based on a constitutional monarchy.
Yet, in these two very different events, it is possible to see the shape of two very different political futures for Scotland. Sooner rather than later, the Scottish people will have to choose between those alternative futures.
It is all but forgotten now that the official opening of the old parliament in 1999 was also a very royal affair.
Indeed, while little attention was paid to it at the time, the royal mummery surrounding the opening and what the Queen actually said tell us a great deal about the Establishment view of devolution.
The crown of Scotland, carried by its hereditary bearer the Duke of Hamilton, preceded the riding back in 1999 and will do so again in 2004. The monarchy was and remains the centrepiece of the ceremonials surrounding devolution.
In 1999, Sheena Wellington may have been allowed to sing Burns's democratic anthem A Man's a Man For a' That, but the parliament was not to be allowed to forget that it was embedded in a constitutional monarchy.
The Queen spoke of the nation "stepping across the threshold of a new constitutional age," but made it clear that the nation she was talking about was Britain.
The latter she praised for its genius in promoting "that pragmatic balance between continuity and change," conceding just enough change to maintain the essence of the constitutional status quo.
Scotland's role within that status quo lay in knowing its place and contributing to the life of the United Kingdom.
She then presented the parliament with a royal mace, described in her own words as "a modern embodiment of an ancient symbol of power, legitimacy and the relationship between Parliament and Crown."
She finished by reminding the parliament of the purpose of the mace. "Let it serve to remind all of the lawful authority vested in the Scottish Parliament today."
In other words, all legitimacy and lawful authority springs not from the people of Scotland, but from that unique constitutional formula, the British Crown in the British Parliament.
The Scottish Parliament's lawful authority is whatever Her Majesty's government in Westminster says it is.
There is little doubt that the 2004 official opening will re-emphasise Scotland's subsidiary role within a continuing United Kingdom. The unionist parties control two-thirds of the new parliament's seats and would not have it any other way.
The SNP, the biggest of the nationalist parties with 21 per cent of the seats, is edging towards acceptance of the devolution status quo, trying to make devolution work as part of an approach to building a nation over the long term.
Its deputy leader in the parliament Kenny MacAskill has just published a new book, Building a Nation, in which he argues for such a gradualist approach and for the SNP to accept that the arguments dominating modern politics have moved on.
It too, he argues, must move on, abandon its fixation with a too powerful state and begin to support individuals and communities against it.
When he was shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Lord Robertson of NATO fame predicted that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead. He was wrong.
But it certainly seems to have knocked the radical stuffing out of the SNP as it drifts towards the political centre ground and to the long-haul view of bringing about political change.
I suspect that its parliamentary road to nationalism will turn out to be as elusive as the earlier and now abandoned parliamentary road to socialism.
All the more reason, therefore, to be grateful for the alternative opening on Calton Hill and for the different strands of socialists, greens, feminists and radicals who will gather there to celebrate a very different road forward.
They recognise that that there can be no democratic progress through a British state rooted in a theory of royal sovereignty that places ultimate power in the Crown in Parliament and dismisses the people as subjects rather than as citizens.
The British state has not been created by the peoples of Britain. As the Queen noted in 1999, its genius lies in conceding just enough change from the top to disarm potentially revolutionary change from below while preserving in tact real power from above.
If, next Saturday is to be a day for the Scottish people, then they should be converging on Calton Hill where their sovereignty is being celebrated and not on Holyrood where sovereignty of a very different kind is being celebrated.