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Scottish Parliament opening Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Connery cheered at parliament opening
sean connery
Sean Connery and his wife Micheline
Actor Sean Connery received a rapturous reception at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament - which he called "the most important day in his life".

Connery, 68, turned out in full highland dress to mark the occasion. Crowds cheered the veteran actor and his wife Micheline as he arrived at the Edinburgh parliament.

He said: "Today is a momentous day for Scotland. We've waited 300 years for this, and it can't be more momentous than that."

The Scottish National Party supporter was the biggest celebrity to attend the ceremony, after Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Ewan McGregor and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson declined their invitations.

But Connery excused their absence, saying: "I'm sure they've got very good reasons."

He left the building with SNP leader Alex Salmond to more cheers from the crowd.

The former James Bond star, who is currently promoting his latest film Entrapment, said at a press conference on Wednesday night the ceremony was something he has eagerly awaited for 40 years.

Sean Connery
Sean Connery: Realising a dream
He added that while the parliament had got off to an inauspicious start, he hoped it would now show Westminster the correct way to govern a country.

He said: "I am not a particularly patient person but for myself it has been nearly 40 years and I think it will certainly be the most important day in my life tomorrow.

"What is wonderful is we have 60 odd years seeing how it shouldn't be done and how to learn from everything that has gone wrong for everything else.

"I hope that the people who are making it happen are as enthusiastic as I am."

Marred by squabbles

The former James Bond star said the early days of the parliament had been marred by squabbles about MSPs' allowances, holidays, cars and the guest list for the opening ceremony.

"I don't think it has been seen at its best. It's been like a dry rehearsal without knowing the jokes," he told journalists.

But he expressed hope that, following the opening in the presence of the Queen, the gloves would come off and Scotland would benefit.

He said: "There will be a voice that certainly wasn't recognised and anticipated before we had the election.

"The voice has got even greater and is the most important thing for Scotland. Hopefully it will get stronger and better."

The actor said he had seen many forms of government during his years travelling the world.

But, he said: "Scotland's is nothing less than equal with anything else."

Welsh Assembly

His Welsh-born co-star Catherine Zeta Jones, 29, who also attended the media conference before the UK premiere of Entrapment, said she was excited about the opening of the Welsh Assembly several weeks ago.

However, she was unable to attend the ceremony due to work commitments.

She said: "I am not as particularly involved in Wales as Sean is up here but I think it is great to have an Assembly there.

"Certain issues that are Welsh can be talked through in our own country.

"It is always exciting when a country takes the initiative and deals with issues that are very Welsh, Scottish or Irish."

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 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Sean Connery: "It will be the most important day in my life"
Video
Morag Kinniburgh reports on Connery's parliament hopes
See also:

04 May 99 | Entertainment
14 May 99 | Entertainment
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