Queen to address MSPs at opening of new Holyrood session

Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion
Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion

The Queen has been on her annual break at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire

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The Queen will address Holyrood’s MSPs as she formally opens the new session of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday.

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.

Music, poetry, and statements by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will also feature during Saturday morning’s opening of parliament.

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.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits the Balmoral Cricket Pavilion, where she and Prince Charles marked the start of the official planting season for the Queen's Green Canopy at the Balmoral Estate, Scotlan
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits the Balmoral Cricket Pavilion, where she and Prince Charles marked the start of the official planting season for the Queen's Green Canopy at the Balmoral Estate, Scotlan

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.

The royal mace that sits at the front of the chamber and the Crown of Scotland would be carried in during a procession as music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland plays.

The Royal Conservatoire Brass will perform Fanfare for the Opening of Parliament 2021. composed by John Wallace and conducted by John Logan as The Queen enters the chamber.

She will be followed by the mace, which will be carried by parliamentary clerk Rea Cris, and the crown that will be brought in by the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, the hereditary keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Music will then be 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 will be performed by Biggins, BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2021.

The newly appointed Scots Makar Kathleen Jamie will then perform 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 will attend Saturday’s opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince of Wales at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen's Green Canopy at the Balmoral Estate.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince of Wales at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen's Green Canopy at the Balmoral Estate.

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.”