As part of The Queen’s busy week-long visit to Scotland, to celebrate ‘Holyrood Week 2019’, Her Majesty was accompanied by Prince Charles on a visit to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary.
The Queen and The Prince of Wales – or to give him his formal title when in Scotland, The Duke of Rothesay – arrived at the Queensberry House entrance to the Scottish Parliament, and were met in the courtyard by the Lord Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh and the Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh.
The Queen, 93 and Prince Charles continued inside the building to the Garden Lobby, where they met Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister and other senior figures from the Scottish political parties ahead of the ceremony in the Debating Chamber.
The Mace and Crown of Scotland were carried into the Debating Chamber in procession to a fanfare, with heralds and The Royal Company of Archers (the Sovereign’s Scottish Bodyguard), sounded by the Brass Ensemble of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was then presented to Her Majesty.
The Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, opened the meeting, noting some of the achievements the Scottish Parliament had achieved over the past two decades.
The Queen gave a speech reflecting on 20 years of Scottish Parliament: “20 years on, this chamber continues to be at the centre of Scottish life, as an important forum to engage and unite diverse communities and also a home for passionate debate and discussion.”
Her Majesty added that she “fondly remembered” opening parliament and also said it was her “sincere hope” that MSPs would “work tirelessly to improve people’s lives and strengthen the bonds of friendship and partnership both at home and abroad”.
The Queen also spoke of her love for Scotland, saying “I have noted on previous occasions my great affection for Scotland, and the many happy and personal connections I enjoy with this wonderful country.” You can read The Queen’s speech in full here.
Following the speech, there were also addresses by the party leaders, including Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Scottish Green’s Patrick Harvie and Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott.
The ceremony also featured performances celebrating Scotland’s music and culture. There were musical performances by the National Youth Choir of Scotland, singer Karen Matheson and folk musician, Phil Cunningham. Scottish poet, Jackie Kay performed “The Long View’, a poem in both English, Gaelic and British Sign Language, which explores how parliament has changed Scotland over the past 20 years.
After the ceremonial proceedings in the Debating Chamber, Her Majesty and The Duke of Rothesay were piped out of the Chamber by MSP Stuart McMillan, with members joining in to sing “A Man’s a Man for a’ That” by Robert Burns.
The Monarch and the heir to the throne then attended a reception in the Main Hall, where along with current and former MSP’s, young Scots and a group of young men and women born on 1st July 1999 (who will be celebrating their 20th birthday alongside the Scottish Parliament) were in attendance. This group of young people are known as the ‘1st of July Babies’. During the reception, The Queen, not only having addressed Party Leaders during her speech, took the time to meet them personally.
Saturday’s ceremony took place almost 20 years to the day since the Parliament officially assumed its legal powers on 1st July 1999, following devolution, and is part of a year-long programme of events. This was the ninth time The Queen has addressed the Scottish Parliament; her last speech to MSP’s took place on 2nd July 2016 as part of celebrations marking the opening the fifth session of the Parliament.
The Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, last visited the Parliament in 2006 to attend a reception of the Prince’s Trust.
After the reception The Queen and 70-year-old future King signed the visitor’s book. As they left, Her Majesty was presented with a bouquet of flowers by 13-year-old Ewan Carmichael, who was amongst the winners of a ‘Dear Scottish Parliament’ letter-writing competition. In his letter, Ewan discussed LGBT rights and expressed his desire to be First Minister. Her Majesty then returned to her official residence in Edinburgh, The Palace of Holyrood.
The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Ken Macintosh, said, “Since the Scottish Parliament was established nearly two decades ago, Her Majesty the Queen has given us her unwavering support. “She addressed the newly elected MSPs in July 1999 as we assumed our legislative powers and she has visited Holyrood many times since, each time with messages of friendship and support.”