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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK

UK Politics

Queen to wear Flower of Scotland

Scotland's new parliament is officially opened on 1 July

Royalty and celebrities from showbusiness, sport and entertainment will be present at the official opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July.

Details have been announced of the day's events, which will mark the historic opening of Scotland's first parliament in nearly 300 years.

BBC Scotland's Nigel Robson: "Sir David Steel predicted a wonderful spectacle"
The Queen will not wear formal robes but a dress specially designed for the occasion.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the dress, by a Scottish designer, would use Scottish materials and would be decorated with a pattern based on "a reinterpretation of the thistle".

Scottish heritage

Sir David Steel, the Parliament's Presiding Officer, said the programme would reflect Scotland's heritage and its place as a modern nation.

The main event will be the Queen's address in the General Assembly Hall on the Mound, the parliament's temporary home until the new site at Holyrood is ready in 2001.

[ image: Sean Connery: Among invited guests]
Sean Connery: Among invited guests
The guest list, drawn up by Sir David, includes Sean Connery, Full Monty actor Robert Carlyle, comedian Billy Connolly, Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Scotland football manager Craig Brown, Europe's top golfer Colin Montgomerie, snooker star Stephen Hendry and Two Fat Ladies celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright, are also on the list.

The programme starts on the evening of 30 June with the "Kirking of the Parliament" - a special service at St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile - attended by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and MSPs.

On 1 July, the day begins with the handing over of the Crown of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle before it travels by car, escorted by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, to the Assembly Hall. It will be the first time since 1953 that the crown has been used ceremonially.

Two-part ceremony

The ceremony will be in two parts, beginning in Parliament Hall, home of the pre-1707 assembly, before the procession of MSPs makes the short distance up the Royal Mile to the Mound for the Queen's address.

After a welcome by the Lord President of the Court of Session in Parliament Hall, the former home of the parliament, Tony Blair will speak to the assembled MSPs and representatives of civic Scotland, marking the handover of powers from Westminster.

[ image: The Crown of Scotland]
The Crown of Scotland
This will be followed by speeches from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond and David McLetchie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

The Queen will travel almost the full length of the Royal Mile in an open carriage to the Mound from the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

While the Queen will adopt a Scottish motif, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, who will use his chief Scottish title the Duke of Rothesay on the day, will wear lounge suits and not the kilt.

The Royal party will enter the Assembly Hall preceded by the Crown and accompanied by the presiding officer and deputies.

Special fanfare

Scottish composer James MacMillan has written a fanfare specially for the occasion.

After a speech by Sir David, the Queen will formally open the parliament and present her gift of a mace, specially designed by craftsman Michael Lloyd.

[ image: Another Royal day for Donald Dewar]
Another Royal day for Donald Dewar
BBC commentator Tom Fleming will read a poem by the late Iain Crichton Smith, followed by Sheena Wellington singing the Burns song 'A Man's A Man for A' That'.

First Minister Donald Dewar will respond to the Queen's speech before a reading by one of the young winners of the National Year of Reading schools competition.

Finally, the ceremony will end with MSPS and their guests joining in the singing of the hymn All People That on Earth Do Dwell.

Those at the Assembly Hall will be able to watch proceedings in Parliament Hall on big screens and vice-versa.

Members of the public can also watch the live TV broadcast on screens in Princes Street, Garden East and Mound Square.

Afterwards, the Royal Party, MSPs and guests will watch a parade of young people and bands.

A public information hotline on the opening of the Parliament has been opened on 08700 507 507.

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