The Queen has spoken publicly about Prince Philip for the first time since his death as she addressed MSPs at the formal opening of the new session of the Scottish Parliament.
Her Majesty reminisced over the ‘many happy memories’ with the Duke of Edinburgh in ‘this wonderful country’ during her speech in Holyrood’s debating chamber at lunchtime on Saturday.
The Duke died in April aged 99 and his wife has given a number of written tributes on social media and through official channels, but today was the first time she addressed his passing in person.
The Queen, 95, also hailed the ‘extraordinary contribution’ those who helped battle the coronavirus pandemic had made over the last year and a half.
But, sounding a note of caution, she now called for world leaders to come together and seize the moment at the COP26 summit.
Her Majesty, appropriately dressed in green, said ‘the eyes of the world will be on the United Kingdom’ when politicians meet for the climate change conference in Glasgow in November.
She said parliaments across the globe had a key role ‘to help create a better, healthier future for us all’ as she addressed MSPs in Holyrood’s debating chamber.
The Queen was joined by Prince Charles and and Camilla – know as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland – as she marked the official start of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament.
She opted for a resplendent green coat while the Duke of Cornwall donned a tartan kilt and the Duchess wore a long green overcoat and matching beret.
Her Majesty met with party and parliamentary leaders in the garden lobby ahead of the ceremony in the debating chamber.
After the service, the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall went to meet Scots who have been recognised for their contribution to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth II delivers a speech in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to mark the official start of the sixth session of Parliament
Her Majesty steps out of her Bentley and smiles at the awaiting crowd during a bitter day in the Scottish capital ahead of her speech
The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, arrive at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The Queen shakes hands with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament
The Queen prepares to make her Address to Parliament in the Debating Chamber during the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, sit behind the Crown of Scotland, in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament
The royal couple are photographed as they are rarely seen – relaxing together away from public duties and enjoying the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands in what is said to be the Queen’s favourite picture of them
Speaking at Holyrood, she said: ‘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.’
She continued: ‘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.’
Her Majesty smiles from her Bentley at the crowds gathering in Edinburgh as she prepared to give her speech on Saturday lunchtime
The Queen has arrived in Edinburgh where she will address Holyrood’s MSPs as she formally opens the new session of the Scottish Parliament
Her Majesty, looking dazzling in green, looks up and smiles as she heads into the chamber ahead of her speech on Saturday morning
Her Majesty said: ‘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’
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, arrive at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, are pictured as they arrived at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
Responding to the Queen’s speech, Nicola Sturgeon offered the parliament’s ‘deep sympathy and shared sorrow at your loss’ and thanked her for being a ‘steadfast friend of our Parliament since its establishment in 1999’.
Ms Sturgeon continued: ‘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.’
Prince Charles and Camilla bow their heads and stand with the Queen as the ceremony gets underway and the Monarch prepares to give her speech
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pictured in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh after the ceremony
Music, poetry and statements by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone also featured during Saturday morning’s opening of parliament.
The Queen, who has been on her annual break at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, met party and parliamentary leaders in the garden lobby ahead of the ceremony in the debating chamber.
The royal mace that sits at the front of the chamber and the Crown of Scotland was carried in during a procession as music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland played.
The Royal Conservatoire Brass performed Fanfare for the Opening of Parliament 2021, composed by John Wallace and conducted by John Logan as the Queen entered the chamber.
She was followed by the mace, which was carried by parliamentary clerk Rea Cris, and the crown was brought in by the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, the hereditary keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Music was performed by Orin Simpson on the flute and Seoras Chlad on the guitar from the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and then Musicians in Exile – Glasgow-based performers comprising asylum seekers and refugees – before a speech by Ms Sturgeon.
Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns and Kirn Street by Michael Biggins was performed by Biggins, BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2021.
The Duke of Hamilton carries the Crown of Scotland into the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh ahead of the Queen giving a speech in the debating chamber, to mark the official start of the sixth session of Parliament
The monarch, 95, will be accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay and will deliver a speech during the ceremony in the debating chamber to mark the official start of the sixth session of parliament
Richard Scott the 10th Duke of Buccleuch views the Royal Archers at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh ahead of Queen’s speech
Music, poetry, and statements by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will also feature during Saturday morning’s opening of parliament. Pictured: Royal Archers
The opening ceremony march of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland is pictured on Saturday morning
These soldiers lit up the street in Edinburgh in their bright uniform for the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament today
The newly appointed Scots Makar Kathleen Jamie performed a specially commissioned poem, followed by the National Youth Choir of Scotland singing the song We Hold The Future.
For the departure of the Queen, Farewell to the Creeks will be performed by the Scottish Parliament’s Piper Stuart McMillan MSP from the Members’ Garden.
A shopkeeper from Edinburgh who raised money for her local community during the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the ‘local heroes’ who attended Saturday’s opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament.
Chosen by the Presiding Officer, Linda Williams set up a coronavirus hardship fund at the Premier Broadway Convenience Store in Oxgangs that raised over £10,000 to help hundreds of locals pay for essentials such as utility bills and food.
Ms Williams said: ‘I am very happy to have been nominated, although I certainly wasn’t looking for any thanks or recognition.
‘It has been such a hard 18 months for everyone, and I think we played a small part in making life a bit easier for our customers and neighbours by setting up a free same-day delivery service and starting a hardship fund to help those who slipped through the cracks of the financial help that was available.
‘Our community rose to the occasion magnificently; people were incredibly generous with their donations, and the whole experience became a shining light of hope during a hard time.’
Ms Johnstone added: ‘Our local heroes initiative is all about celebrating people from across Scotland for their contributions to their communities throughout the pandemic and beyond.
‘The many actions and achievements of those nominated are truly inspiring. So many of our local heroes have put others before themselves, for the good of others.
‘I am proud the Scottish Parliament will recognise people like Linda and that our local heroes will play a part in our 2021 opening ceremony.’
Soldiers march in formation as they take part in the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Saturday
After the ceremony, the Queen, Charles and Camilla will meet Scots who have been recognised for their contribution to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pictured: Guards at the Scottish Parliament
The Queen, who has been on her annual break at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, will meet party and parliamentary leaders in the garden lobby ahead of the ceremony in the debating chamber. Pictured: Royal Archers today
The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, ahead of the speech
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon high fives a visitor’s daughter in the public gallery ahead of the opening of the sixth session