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Queen joins MSPs to mark 20th anniversary of Scottish Parliament

The Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, is also attending the ceremony at Holyrood.

The Queen is greeted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she arrives at the Scottish Parliament (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Queen is greeted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she arrives at the Scottish Parliament (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Queen has arrived at the Scottish Parliament for a special event taking place as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations.

The Prince of Wales, who holds the title of the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, is accompanying his mother as she made a speech to MSPs in the debating chamber.

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The Queen alongside Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The ceremony is taking place almost 20 years to the day since the Parliament officially assumed its legal powers on July 1, 1999 following devolution.

Some of the young people born on that date are joining MSPs to take part in the event.

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The Duke of Hamilton arrives with the Crown of Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ahead of the Queen’s arrival, the Crown of Scotland was brought in a procession from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood, carried by the Duke of Hamilton and accompanied by the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards.

The royal party arrived at the Scottish Parliament at around 11am, where they were met by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and representatives of the five parties at Holyrood.

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The Queen being presented with the Scottish Crown at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament in July 1999 (PA)

The Queen made an address to the chamber, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon making a speech in response.

The Queen said: “I have noted on previous occasions my great affection for Scotland, and the many happy and personal connections I enjoy with this wonderful country.

“It has been with great pleasure that over the years I have watched Scotland grow and prosper, and have been with you at each stage of your parliamentary life, including on landmark occasions such as today.

“Twenty years on, this chamber continues to be at the centre of Scottish public life, as an important forum to engage and unite diverse communities and also a home for passionate debate and discussion.

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The Queen recalled previous visits to the parliament (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Through new initiatives you continue to strive to be responsive and accountable to the people you serve, and to engage and involve those who might not otherwise participate in political debate.”

She continued: “It is perhaps worth reflecting that at the heart of the word ‘parliament’ lies its original meaning: a place to talk. I have no doubt that for most of these last 20 years this striking chamber has provided exactly that, a place to talk.

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The Queen shares a laugh with Mr Macintosh (Jane Barlow/PA)

“But of course it must also be a place to listen – a place to hear views that inevitably may differ quite considerably, one from another – and a place to honour those views.”

Ms Sturgeon tweeted earlier: “This morning, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of @ScotParl. In these two decades, the Parliament has become the democratic heart of our nation and delivered real progress. We now look towards a new decade and the next chapter in Scotland’s story.”

The chamber is also to hear from Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie and Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott.

The speeches are being interspersed with cultural performances, including Scots Makar Jackie Kay reading her poem The Long View, written specially for the event and celebrating the changes in the 20 years since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened.

The chamber choir of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, Scottish folk musician Phil Cunningham and members of Celtic band Capercaillie are also performing.

Stuart MacMillan MSP will play Robert Burns’s A Man’s A Man For A’ That on the bagpipes as the Queen leaves the chamber.

After the ceremony, the Queen and Charles will attend a reception in the Parliament’s main hall and sign the visitors book.

When the Queen’s visit was first announced, Mr 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.

“It will be a pleasure to welcome Her Majesty and HRH the Duke of Rothesay to the Parliament once again as we celebrate our 20th year.”

The visit marks the ninth time the Queen has addressed the Scottish Parliament.

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The Queen met with school children when she visited the Scottish Parliament to mark its 10th anniversary in 2009 (Phil Wilkinson/The Scotsman/PA)

Her last speech to MSPs took place on July 2 2016 as part of celebrations marking the opening of the fifth session of the Parliament.

Charles last visited the Parliament in 2006 to attend a reception of the Prince’s Trust.

The ceremony on Saturday is part of a year-long programme of events to mark two decades of devolution.

PA

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