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EDITIONS
Scottish Parliament opening Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
The Queen's speech
Queen speaking
The Queen spoke of her affection for Scotland
The Scottish Parliament was formally opened by the Queen with a brief speech in the Assembly Hall. Here is the text in full:

Presiding Officer, First Minister, Members of the Scottish Parliament:

"Today is a historic day for Scotland. It is our solemn duty in this chamber with the eyes of the country upon us to mark the point when this new Parliament assumes its full powers in the service of the Scottish people.

It is a moment rare in the life of any nation when we step across the threshold of a new constitutional age.

Over the centuries the British have sought to acknowledge and promote that pragmatic balance between continuity and change as we have forged new political structures to respond more effectively to democratic aspirations.

This new Parliament and the symbolism of this opening ceremony are rightly anchored in the history of Scotland.

The Crown placed before us today has been passed from Sovereign to Sovereign at least since the coronation of Alexander III in 1294.

Assembly link

Your procession this morning from Parliament House recalled the link with that earlier assembly which last sat in 1706.

And it was in this very building, now your temporary home, that my father 70 years ago became the first member of the Royal Family since the 17th Century to take on the duties of Lord High Commissioner.

As we move into a new era of government in Scotland we can draw strength and direction from such landmarks of our tradition and history.

We can also draw confidence from the respect and admiration which exists for Scotland, not only in the rest of the United Kingdom but also across the Commonwealth and throughout the world.

This is a society in which the qualities of co-operation, learning, entrepreneurial flair and national pride run deep.

The Scottish education system has proved its quality and value through the positions occupied by Scots worldwide.

The Scottish financial sector is recognised as being amongst the largest in Europe.

Edinburgh festival

The Edinburgh International Festival is one of the world's leading cultural events, and Scottish sportsmen and women are regularly seen as some of the country's best ambassadors.

Scotland is all this and so much more - the grit, determination and humour, the forthrightness and above all the strong sense of identity of the Scottish people, qualities which contribute so much to the life of the United Kingdom.

And these qualities reflect a Scotland which - if I may make a personal point - occupy such a special place in my own and my family's affections.

As we step forward into this new constitutional age, the test for Scotland and for this new Parliament will be to harness these great strengths, to channel them through the energy of the young and the experience of the old, to shape the future across Scotland - in the Western Isles, in Aberdeen, in the Borders, in Glasgow and in every corner of this land.

This parliament has set itself many challenges: to be modern, not just in the use of technology but in the way it engages with the people of Scotland in a climate of openness and accessibility; to understand the past, respecting those timeless values of probity and service to all the people of Scotland.

'Heavy burden'

As the first Members of the new Scottish Parliament, you carry a heavy burden of responsibility in meeting these challenges.

You will be called upon to exercise wisdom in using the powers of this Parliament, to make laws with care and deliberation, and to hold to account Scottish ministers and public servants to ensure good government for the people of Scotland.

Yours will also be the obligation over the coming months to set lasting standards of vision and purpose, of debate and discussion, not just for our own generation but for future generations, for those young people who have just performed so well outside this chamber and those who will be parading past after the ceremony, carrying their banners and celebrating the enthusiasm of every constituency represented here today.

The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, join me in wishing this Parliament every success.

My prayers are with you all as you embark on this new and historic journey.

I have trust in the good judgment of the Scottish people. I have faith in your commitment to their service and I am confident in the future of Scotland.

I am pleased therefore now to declare the Scottish Parliament open and in so doing to present to you this newly-commissioned mace, a modern embodiment of an ancient symbol of power, legitimacy and the relationship between parliament and Crown.

Let it serve to remind all of the lawful authority vested in the Scottish Parliament from today.

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Audio
Sir David Steel welcomes the Queen to the chamber
Audio
The Queen delivers her historic speech to the Assembly Hall
Links to more Scottish Parliament opening stories are at the foot of the page.


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