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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 19:53 GMT 20:53 UK
Mixed views on Queen's visit
By Steve Brocklehurst
BBC News Online Scotland

Queen in car
People waited for hours just for a glimpse of the Queen
Fifty years and one day since her coronation, Queen Elizabeth still holds a fascination for many Scots.

Some are fascinated by the majesty of monarchy and others by the notion that an unelected figurehead can be so revered.

Others still are simply amazed by hundreds of people waiting for hours for a glimpse of a 77-year-old woman waving as her car glides gracefully past.

More than an hour before the Queen arrived on the Mound to address the second session of the Scottish Parliament, there were about 200 people standing patiently behind the police barriers.

There were few flags and little noise but most displayed a quiet resolve to get a look at the monarch.

False pretences

Old soldier Thomas Gilzean said he was there to support the Queen against the rebel MSPs who had boycotted the event.

The 83-year-old veteran of "three theatres of war" proudly displayed his war medals and said the rebel MSPs were taking money under false pretences by failing to turn up after pledging allegiance to the Queen.

He said: "We must have a monarchy, otherwise we are finished. I don't want to see a republic."

Peter Dow from Aberdeen would not agree.

He held a banner calling on the Scottish Parliament to say "no" to the Queen.

Mr Dow said that it was a "betrayal" of the people for the Queen to be received in the parliament.

Thomas Gilzean
We must have a monarchy, otherwise we are finished.
Thomas Gilzean

"Too often republicans will dismiss the Queen as irrelevant.

"Some will say that she is just a figure head and it does not really matter. But it does matter."

He said republican MSPs who attended the parliament with the Queen present were giving her a respect and a place that she does not deserve.

His calls for a parliament of republicans which would break the Scotland Act and refuse to invite the Queen to its sessions proved too much for Mike from Edinburgh.

Just like Mr Dow he said he was a believer in democracy but for him a monarchy was an integral part of that system.

He said: "This country used to be great. All we have now is a cynical bias against the establishment.

"MSPs who do not turn up are entitled to their opinion but it is not doing much for the reputation of the parliament."

'Vulgar curiosity'

Quite a number of those who waited for the Queen to arrive were tourists.

Robert from Wisconsin in the United States said it was "vulgar curiosity" that had led him to stay and wait.

"If my brother finds out about this he will never forgive me," he said.

Frank, from California, had seen the Queen a few days ago in London when she attended an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest.

For him one sighting of the monarch would have been enough, but wife Nancy could not resist a second chance to see her.

"What are the chances of seeing the Queen twice in a few days?" said Nancy, a fan of British history.

For Claire from Melbourne and Samantha from San Diego the visit was an extra attraction on the Edinburgh itinerary.

Peter Dow
Peter Dow: Betrayal

"We just walked out of the National gallery and asked what was going on," said Claire, who viewed the occasion as similar to her recent sighting of the Pope being conveyed through Rome.

For her the closed roads and lack of pedestrian access were not a problem.

Chas Hickie, a politics student at the University of Edinburgh, was not as understanding.

He wanted to get to the library but was told by the police that access was restricted due to security surrounding the visit.

"It's enough to make me a republican," he said.

However, he said that the problem with democracy is not the Queen, it is Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"If we did not have the Queen who would we have as president? Tony Blair? Not a very good idea."

Waving regally

A young mother with a pram pleaded with police to be allowed through the crowds but was shown the diversion.

"Bloody Queen," she muttered as she set out on her elongated journey.

Eventually, the time arrived.

The Queen's car swept up the Mound and the crowd were treated to an indistinct view of a woman in lime green waving regally.

For those prepared to wait another hour the view was better as the Queen left the parliament.

She lingered at the entrance for a short moment and chatted to waiting school children.

Queen greets children
For some it was worth the wait

Then as the car slowly slid down the hill we got a clear view and all around the crowd shouted "bye".

The experience was enough for an American tourist to immediately phone home to recount the tale.

"We might never get to see Edinburgh Castle now," she said.

"But we saw the Queen.

"Isn't that thrilling. I'm out of control," she said.

Truly fascinating.

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Royal 'message of substance'
03 Jun 03  |  Scotland

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