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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Scotland marks a Royal life
Flag at half-mast at Palace of Holyroodhouse
Flags have been lowered across Scotland
The Queen Mother has been remembered as a "committed Christian" during an Easter Sunday church service near one of her favourite Scottish retreats.

Her passing is being mourned across Scotland, but particularly at Glamis Castle in Angus, Crathie Church near Balmoral on Royal Deeside and at the Castle of Mey in Caithness.

All three locations occupied a special place in her heart throughout her 101-year life, which ended peacefully on Saturday.

Books of condolences have been opened across Scotland, including one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh which will be open from 0800-1800BST until the funeral on Tuesday 9 April.

Queen Mother sporting a shamrock
The Queen Mother was a keen observer of tradition
At Crathie Parish Church near Balmoral, where she stayed in her residence at Birkhall, the Rev. Robert Sloan said during a 45-minute service: "Although it is a sad day, it is a day of hope.

"It's a day we remember someone who was a very committed Christian."

The Queen Mother last worshipped at the church, which has a congregation of 160, in October 2001.

Peter Ord, resident factor of Balmoral Estate, said: "Everyone who knew Her Majesty will remember her with great fondness."

'Source of inspiration'

The BBC's Songs of Praise broadcast a special programmes from Glamis Castle, where the Queen Mother spent her early childhood, on Sunday.

The castle, which was owned by the Queen Mother's father, now belongs to her great nephew, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

He said: "Her great love for Glamis was always a source of inspiration and help for us all and her many visits over the years were always a joy for everyone.

A young girl looks at flowers laid at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Flowers laid at Holyroodhouse

"Although this is a time of great sadness, it is also a time of great thankfulness for the long life of someone who dedicated her life to the service of the nation and who will always be remembered with so much respect and gratitude."

A book of condolence is due to open at Glamis Castle on Monday where floral tributes have been placed outside the gates.

One had a card which read: "Although it's sad to lose those who are dear to us, there is comfort in remembering all the times they made such a difference."

Prayers were said at the local parish church, St Fergus Kirk, and during the Easter service at the private chapel within the upper floors of Glamis Castle.

Scottish 'appeal'

First Minister Jack McConnell and his wife Bridget went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the Royals' residence when staying in the capital, to sign the book of condolences.

Mr McConnell said: "It was important to come here today to express sincere condolences not just for myself but for all Scots.

"Her very humanity and her association with Scotland appealed to Scots."

Jack and Bridget McConnell at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The first minister and his wife pay their respects

Richard Baillie, 46, from Edinburgh, admitted: "I wasn't into the Royal Family until I married my wife, who's English.

"We came here last night and now we're here again to sign the book."

Jason Gies, a 29-year-old banker from New York, said: "The Queen Mother was a sign of strength, respect and brought out the values of what I think Great Britain is."

Lieutenant General Sir David Scott-Barrett, governor of Edinburgh Castle between 1976 and 1979, said: "She was typical of all the best in our land and humanity."

Castle rescued

She also regularly headed for the seclusion offered by the once-derelict Castle of Mey in Caithness, which will open to the public from 1100-1800BST on Monday.

It was here that she sought comfort in the months after the death of her husband.

In an interview, she said of the ruined building: "We saw this old castle and then I discovered it was going to be pulled down.

Flowers
One tribute to a Royal life

"I thought I must try to save it and so it's been quite a lovely thing to build up something that might have gone forever."

In the village of Mey, the Rev. Dr Iain Macnee said a special service of remembrance was likely to be held at Canisbay Parish Church on the first Sunday in May.

"She had a really mischievous sense of humour, but it was never a sense of humour that hurt people," he said.

"We all know she was a lady with a real human touch. She had a way of making you feel special."

Major Graham Dunnett, the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness, said: "I had hoped she would have been able to come to Caithness this August as she has done for the past 50 years.

"I am trying to take it in that she will no longer be with us, because she was so much part of Caithness since her husband died."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Colin Blane reports
"The Queen Mother had an interest in industrial Scotland too"
Forbes McFall reports
"At Holyroodhouse a book of condolence was opened"
Craig Anderson reports
"Her affection for Scotland remained a central part of life"
See also:

30 Mar 02 | Scotland
Politicians unite in sorrow
30 Mar 02 | Scotland
Scotland's Queen of Hearts
30 Mar 02 | UK
Queen Mother dies
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