Queen opens new session of Scottish Parliament and speaks of happy times with Philip in ‘wonderful’ Scotland

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The Queen has urged Scottish MSPs to “help create a better, healthier future” by tackling the challenges of recent times ahead of the Cop26 conference.

She also spoke of the “deep and abiding affection” she and the late Duke of Edinburgh shared of Scotland as she formally opened the new session of the Scottish Parliament.

Accompanied by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen told MSPs that as the UK emerges from “adverse and uncertain times” there was an opportunity for “hope and optimism.”

The Queen said:

“The beginning of a new session is a time for renewal and fresh thinking, providing an opportunity to look to the future and our future generations.

“Next month, I will be attending Cop26 events in Glasgow.

“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.

“There is a key role for the Scottish Parliament, as with all parliaments, to help create a better, healthier future for us all, and to engage with the people they represent – especially our young people.”

Speaking at Holyrood for the first time since the Philip’s death, she added:

“Today is also a day when we can celebrate those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the lives of other people in Scotland, locally or nationally during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here.

“It is often said that it is the people that make a place. And there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland. As we have seen in recent times.

“We all know of the difficult circumstances that many people have encountered during the last 18 months.

“However, alongside this have been countless examples of resilience and goodwill.

“Following my grandson’s time as Lord High Commissioner, Prince William has told me many heartening stories that he heard first hand of people and communities across Scotland uniting to protect and care for those who are isolated or vulnerable.”

In response to the Queen’s speech, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked the Queen for being a “steadfast friend of our Parliament since its establishment in 1999.”

Nicola Sturgeon said:

“As we battle through the storm of a global pandemic, hope and the hankering for change is perhaps felt more strongly by more people than at any time in our recent history.

“That gives this Parliament a momentous responsibility and a historic opportunity.

“Covid has been the biggest crisis to confront the world since the Second World War – it has caused pain and heartbreak, it has exposed and exacerbated the inequalities within our society.

“But it has also revealed humankind’s boundless capacity for inventiveness, solidarity and love.

“And for those of us in public service, it has reminded us that with collective political will, changes that we might previously have thought impossible or just too difficult can indeed be achieved.

“In the months ahead, we must take the same urgency and resolve with which we have confronted this pandemic and apply it to the hard work of recovery and renewal, to the task of building a fairer and greener future for this and the generations who come after us.”

The Queen, who has been on her annual break at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, then joined Charles and Camilla to meet Scots who have been recognised for their contribution to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To watch the Queen’s speech click here.

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