LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II began the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday and reflected on the “deep and enduring affection” she and her late husband Prince Philip share for Scotland.
The 95-year-old monarch arrived at the ceremony with his son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, known in Scotland as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. The ceremony in Edinburgh began with the royal mace and the Crown of Scotland being brought into the chamber.
“I have spoken of my deep and lasting affection for this wonderful country and the many happy memories that Prince Philip and I have always held during our time here,” the Queen told lawmakers.
The couple spent several summers at Balmoral Castle, Scotland’s royal residence, often attended by members of the royal family. The Queen reached Edinburgh from the palace.
It is the first time he has opened a new session of the Scottish Parliament without Philip by his side. The prince, officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died in April at the age of 99.
The Queen said during her remarks to MPs: “The start of a new session is a time of renewal and new thinking, providing an opportunity to look to the future and our generations to come.”
That opportunity is particularly ripe this year, she said, with the United Nations’ annual climate summit scheduled to take place between October 31 and November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. The Queen said she would attend the event, which is known as COP26 for short.
“The eyes of the world will be on the United Kingdom – and Scotland, in particular – as leaders come together to address the challenges of climate change,” she said.
In response to the Queen’s speech, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, offered her “deepest sympathy and shared grief” over Philip’s death, and to the monarch for having been a “steadfast friend” of the Scottish Parliament since its inception in 1999. Thank you
“As we battle the storm of a global pandemic, the longing for hope and change is perhaps felt more strongly by more people than at any time in our recent history,” she said.
Although Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party wants the country to be independent of Britain, its policy is to maintain the monarchy. However, many of its members say they would prefer an elected head of state.
The Queen, Charles and Camilla were also due to meet Scots, who have been recognized for their community contributions during the coronavirus pandemic.