The UK is living through an “awful” period and Brexit could put “great strain” on the country, according to historian Sir Simon Schama.
Sir Simon, 73, made the comments after he collected a knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge for services to history at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
The veteran broadcaster said: “We’re going through a very awful period which could conceivably put huge strain on the United Kingdom, particularly on Scotland.
“I do hope in a hundred years this won’t be seen as the moment when it all broke apart.
“I don’t think it will, but it just really shows the unpredictability of history.”
The historian and author, known for his BBC series A History of Britain, compared the current political climate with the success of London’s Olympic Games in 2012.
Sir Simon added: “If you take as the revelatory moment the Olympic Games just seven years ago: we had a flourishing economy, we were a light to the world. We had gold medallists in every religion and skin colour.
“Odd moments of dysfunction or manufactured political rhetoric can undo that.
“This moment will be a test of those two versions of Britain: the Olympic Britain or Brexit Britain.”
Sir Simon has spoken about out against Brexit regularly on Twitter.
On January 31, he claimed of the 2016 vote: “It was based on lies – the £350 million to the NHS bus […] and no knowledge of what leaving would actually involve.
“Democracy is never about freezing a vote at a single moment.”
After Tuesday’s ceremony, Sir Simon called the accolade “amazing” and “wonderful,” and paid tribute to his parents for igniting his love of history.
He told the Press Association: “My Dad used to take me around castles and towers, he would have been amazed at this and very happy about it. I’m very happy too.
“You can only have a sense of where you belong with history. You need the long view of what it has meant to belong to a country like this to rescue you from the epoch of the short attention span.”