Queen Elizabeth II opened the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday, reflecting on the “deep and abiding affection” she and her late husband Prince Philip shared for Scotland.
The 95-year-old monarch attended the ceremony with her son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, known in Scotland as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.
“The start of a new session is a time of renewal and new thinking, providing an opportunity to look to the future and our future generations,” the queen said in her remarks to lawmakers at Holyrood.
That opportunity is particularly ripe this year, she said, as the annual United Nations climate summit is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, in a month’s time. The queen said she will attend the event, known briefly as COP26.
“The eyes of the world will be on the United Kingdom – and Scotland in particular – as leaders come together to tackle the challenges of climate change,” she said.
In response to the Queen’s speech, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked the monarch for being a “steadfast friend” of the Scottish Parliament since its creation in 1999.
“As we struggle through the storm of a global pandemic, the hope and desire for change is perhaps felt more keenly by more people than at any time in our recent history,” she said.
Though Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party, or SNP, wants the country to be independent of the UK, its stated policy is to retain the monarchy.
But Sturgeon has said in the past that the long-term future of the monarchy should be up for debate.
If Scotland does become independent it’s unclear if Britain’s monarch, whether the Queen or her son Prince Charles, would remain Scotland’s head of state.
Many members of the SNP say they would prefer an elected head of state.