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Queen officially opens Welsh National Assembly at the Senedd

Published 07/06/2016

The Queen has officially opened the Fifth Session of the National Assembly for Wales at the Senedd.

She was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

A 21-gun salute was fired at Cardiff Pierhead when the royal train arrived at Cardiff Central Station.

The Welsh and National anthems were played and a royal salute given as the Queen reached the main entrance to the Senedd.

Hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets to the Senedd, with school children waving both Union and Welsh flags to the royal party.

The Queen was greeted with music and poetry as she arrived at the building, dressed in an aqua green silk tweed coat, at about 11.40am on Tuesday.

In a speech given to the Siambr, the Queen said the opening of the Fifth Session marked "a further significant development in the history of devolution in Wales".

"I have continued to follow the Assembly's progress with close interest, and to note the remarkable record of achievement over the first four terms," the Queen said.

"Though a relatively young parliamentary institution, you have established a reputation as a strong, accessible and forward-looking legislature, serving all the diverse communities of Wales.

"The Assembly can be proud of the way it has engaged with a broad audience across Wales and beyond, to create a better understanding of the important work that is undertaken here; and I am sure that you will continue to show innovation and leadership in the way that you communicate with all those you serve, and to involve them in your work."

The Queen, sat next to Prince Philip, told the chamber that during her visit in 2011 she noted that Assembly Acts would soon be passed for the first time.

"So I am pleased now to see the Assembly serving the people of Wales as a modern legislature, with full law-making powers," she said.

"It is an achievement in which all who care about Wales can take pride.

"The volume and complexity of your legislative responsibilities will increase still further during this Fifth Assembly, and you will also have the fiscal responsibilities flowing from the Wales Act 2014, including tax-raising powers for the first time.

"Your responsibility is great and the expectations are high, but I have no doubt you will continue to succeed as you discharge these new duties.

"Presiding Officer, Assembly Members, this Fifth Assembly marks a further significant development in the history of devolution in Wales."

Following the speech, the Queen signed a commemorative parchment accompanied by Anne Denholm, the official harpist for the Prince of Wales.

A specially commissioned poem written by Ifor ap Glyn - the National Poet of Wales - was read by Maeve Tonkin-Wells, a third year student from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

First Minister Carwyn Jones responded to the Queen's speech, highlighting the need for Assembly Members to work together to serve the country.

"The beginning of the new parliamentary term is a special moment," he said.

"A new assembly has been elected, a new government has been sworn in and a new agenda for Wales is being developed.

"But more than this the beginning of the new term marks a pivotal moment in the life of Welsh devolution itself.

"In the coming months and years, further powers will be granted to this Assembly marking its maturity into a more powerful parliament."

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