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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Union of Crowns hailed
Mr McConnell believes the anniversary could boost tourism
The union between Scotland and England is "a model for parliamentary democracy the world over", according to First Minister Jack McConnell.

Mr McConnell's comments came as he hosted a dinner attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh marking the 400th anniversary of the Union of the Crowns.

The Royal couple arrived in Scotland on Tuesday to begin a week-long stay north of the border.

The dinner, which was also attended by the Duke of York, was held in the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

Mr McConnell announced earlier this year that he wanted to mark the Union of the Crowns - when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth - to boost tourism in Scotland.

'Important anniversary'

He told gathered guests that the date was "one of the most significant" in Scotland's history.

"It led directly to the most successful Royal family in the world today," he said.

"And the subsequent union of the parliaments in 1707 led in time to Britain being a model for parliamentary democracy the world over."

Mr McConnell added: "This important anniversary gives us an opportunity to send out a positive and confident message about our national identity both at home and abroad.

"It provides an opportunity to promote Scotland's history in a way that can generate interest within Scotland, throughout the United Kingdom and around the world."

Among those also attending the dinner were Mr McConnell's predecessor Henry McLeish, the new Scots Secretary Alistair Darling, his predecessor Helen Liddell and Tories Ian Lang and Malcolm Rifkind, who also held the post.

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