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by Kirsteen Paterson
12 September 2022
King Charles hears tributes in Scottish Parliament

King Charles listened to tributes paid to the Queen from all of Scotland's party leaders | Credit: Scottish Parliament TV

King Charles hears tributes in Scottish Parliament

Nicola Sturgeon has revealed her "treasured" memories of the Queen as she offered her "sincere condolences" to King Charles III.

There were cheers from onlookers as the new sovereign arrived to hear a motion of condolence at the Scottish Parliament along with the Queen Consort.

He was met by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone, and her deputies Annabelle Ewing and Liam McArthur were introduced before entering Queensberry House.

Party leaders, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, were waiting in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament.

A two minutes' silence was held before Sturgeon revealed how she first encountered the Queen at the age of nine, when the monarch was in her home town Irvine to open a leisure centre in 1979. 

"I was one of hundreds lining the streets with my mum, and by luck, we ended up close to her car and, as it passed by me, I was absolutely convinced I had caught her eye," she said.

"That nine-year-old girl could not have imagined more than 35 years later, being in the front passenger seat of another car, this time with the Queen at the wheel driving through the Balmoral estate."

Sturgeon said she had "treasured" memories from Balmoral and recounted how her husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, spotted a flickering light and discovered a corgi named Sandy "eating through the lamp switch", resulting in the pet getting a "stern ticking-off from his mistress".

"We stand ready to support you as you continue your own life of service," she told the King.

Sturgeon moved a motion, which stated that the parliament "expresses its deepest regret and grief at the death of Her Majesty the Queen; conveys its sincere condolences to His Majesty the King and other members of the Royal family in their bereavement; affirms the great affection and esteem in which Her Majesty was held, and expresses gratitude for her life of exceptional public service and her long and close association with Scotland and the Scottish people".

It was agreed by all party leaders and Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said news of the Queen's death had "rocked us to the core". The Queen was "a constant presence in our national life throughout her 70-year reign," he said. "For so many of us, it is difficult to imagine the country without her."

"I know that people across the country will show you the same support and devotion as they did your late mother," he went on. "Because today we don't just commemorate the reign of our Queen but also celebrate the life of a woman who many in Scotland knew and loved."

Labour leader Anas Sarwar told how he had returned home after the Queen's death to find a "crying six-year-old" who was "sad that he will never get to meet the Queen".

He went on: "So often in our politics, both today and throughout history, we focus on what divides us. From the Blitz to the pandemic, the Queen brought our nation together. She was the great unifier of our country."

In his speech, Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the "reality of human life is not rooted in status or in title, but in the connections we make" and the experience of loss is "universal".

Offering his party's sincere condolences, Harvie said that this is "a time to reflect on the change the Queen witnessed" during her reign, including recovery from the Second World War, the establishment of the NHS and the progress of human rights. "The tide of progress cannot be halted," he said. "It feels slow as we live it day by day but in time it is dramatic.

"As Charles III begins his reign let us hope indeed redouble our determination that he will have the opportunity to witness change just as transformational and more. It is still needed."

The Queen "was the embodiment of constancy and forebearance", Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said. "She sat with presidents and hospital patients, key workers and veterans.

"She earned the widespread affection that has been so visible in these days of mourning."

Addressing the chamber, the King said his mother found "a haven and a home" in Scotland and felt the "greatest admiration for the Scottish people, their achievements and their indomitable spirit". "It was the greatest comfort for her to know in turn the true affection in which she was held," he went on, quoting Burns and saying his son William will be "as proud as I am" to hold the Scottish titles being passed to him, including that of the Duke of Rothesay.

"I take up my new duties with thankfulness for all that Scotland has given me," he said, "with resolve to seek always the welfare of our country and its people and with wholehearted trust in your good will and good counsel as we take forward that task together".

Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan, the official piper of the Scottish Parliament, played a closing fanfare to the session, which was attended by former first ministers, provosts, and representatives from across civic Scotland.

The parliamentary event followed a service attended by Prime Minister Liz Truss and others at St Giles's Cathedral, where the Queen's coffin will remain until tomorrow afternoon, when its journey to London continues.

During a procession to the cathedral earlier in the afternoon, the Queen's children walked behind the hearse as part of the funeral cortege. Shouts of "God save the King" broke out after one man heckled Prince Andrew during that procession.

Thousands of people were in Edinburgh as national mourning continues. Sturgeon said it was a "moment of profound sadness" for many. "Our thoughs are with the entire family, and we are honoured by the presence here of His Majesty, King Charles III, and the Queen Consort," she went on. "In an ever-changing world, especially in turbulent times, Her Majesty was the great constant - the anchor of our nation."

Addressing the change in monarch, the First Minister said: "We stand ready to support His Majesty as he continues his own life of service and builds on the extraordinary legacy of his beloved mother Queen Elizabeth, the Queen of Scots."

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