Official Opening of the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Alison Johnstone MSP escorts Her Majesty The Queen.

Her Majesty The Queen attended the Official Opening to mark the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Saturday October 2nd, joined for the occasion by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. The Opening Ceremony is a tradition started in 1999 to mark the beginning of every new session of the Scottish Parliament. This year’s ceremony paid tribute to ‘local heroes’ chosen from across Scotland for the part they have played during the pandemic and their communities both locally and nationally.

This was the first time Her Majesty the Queen has attended the opening of parliament without her husband Prince Phillip, who died earlier this year. Her Majesty, 95,  said as she addressed the parliament chamber: “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 it is in Scotland, as we have seen in recent times.”

The Crown of Scotland

The Crown of Scotland carried by the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon.

The Crown of Scotland was featured at the Opening Ceremony of the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament. The Crown of Scotland was received by the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon at Edinburgh Castle. It was then proceeded to the Scottish Parliament accompanied by Pipes and Drums of The Royal Highland Fusiliers (2 SCOTS). The Crown of Scotland was carried by the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, and was escorted into the courtyard of Queensberry House by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Officers of Arms, the Royal Company of Archers. The Crown is part of the Honours of Scotland or the Scottish Regalia.

The other pieces are the Sword of State and the Sceptre. In early January 1540, with the imminent coronation of his new queen, Marie de Guise, King James V ordered that the Crown of Scotland, in a damaged and broken condition, was to be remodelled. From the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 to the Treaty of Union in 1707, the Honours were brought down from Edinburgh Castle with great ceremony and taken to Parliament House on the Royal Mile adjacent to St Giles’ Cathedral for the state opening of Parliament. The Riding of Parliament as we know it today is thought to originate from this ceremony, though it has its origins in the 15th century, if not earlier.

This elaborate procession from Edinburgh Castle down the Royal Mile to Parliament became known as the Riding of Parliament. It has been reinstated since the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.  The ‘riding’ in 1999 was one of the largest ceremonial events in modern Scottish history. The Sword of State and the Sceptre are no longer in regular Royal ceremonial use.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressing the chamber. Photo: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament.

All images: © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

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