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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 June 2007, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Salmond in independence promise
party leaders with the Queen
The Queen met Scotland's main party leaders
Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, has reaffirmed his commitment to independence, as the Queen marked the third session of parliament.

But he also acknowledged Her Majesty's "vital role" as Queen of Scots during a ceremony at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

The Queen herself paid tribute to the "pioneering spirit" of the Scots in her address to the parliament chamber.

The speeches formed part of a series of events which were held in and around the building.

The festivities featured guests ranging from actor Sir Sean Connery to the Scots rock band Idlewild.

Meanwhile, police reviewed security arrangements in the light of the attempted bomb attacks in London.

Today, the Scottish Parliament confidently moves into its third parliamentary session and places a firm focus on the future while drawing confidence and strength from your illustrious past
Her Majesty the Queen

The Lothian and Borders force said it was working with others across the UK to ensure officers were ready for any contingency.

Speaking to MSPs and other guests in the parliament's main chamber for the first time since the SNP took power in Scotland, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, said the nation had a proud history.

"As you move into your third parliamentary session and a new form of politics, I'm confident that the Scottish people will be at the heart of the business of this session as you keep on walking with them and together build a better and more sustainable future for this great land," she said.

The Queen said that, with each visit to Holyrood, she had found a different parliament.

"In 1999 it was a newly established body, one full of hope, vision and perhaps what might now with hindsight seem unrealistic expectations."

the queen and alex salmond

She continued: "I recall the parliament of 2003. A second parliament which gained worldwide respect for its innovative methods at a time of disengagement between legislatures and the citizen."

"The Scottish Parliament proved that the pioneering spirit of the Scots was alive and well," said Her Majesty.

"Today, the Scottish Parliament confidently moves into its third parliamentary session and places a firm focus on the future while drawing confidence and strength from your illustrious past."

Mr Salmond acknowledged Her Majesty's role as "Queen of Scots, in guiding the tenor of our deliberations", while pointing out that Scotland was a country which was weighing up options for the future.

He said: "Your Majesty, it will not have escaped your notice that I am the first SNP first minister that this parliament has elected.

'Proud nation'

"I believe in the restoration of an independent Scotland. Others in this chamber take a different view.

"I welcome that debate and the national conversation to follow. The challenge for all of us is to have that conversation with dignity, with respect and with substance."

The Scottish Parliament's presiding officer, Alex Fergusson, said: "This is an uplifting occasion where the very fabric of our society is reflected in the day's celebrations.

"We're a very proud nation and this day is a day for the people just as the Scottish Parliament is a parliament for the people."

Events in the Holyrood chamber were followed by the traditional "riding" event, a procession of 1,200 politicians, performers and members of the public along Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

The "picnic at the parliament" event outside the building also featured musical acts including the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Salsa Celtica and Keith Jack, the Dalkeith teenager who made it as far as the final of the BBC's Any Dream Will Do competition to star as Joseph in London's west end.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The Queen addresses MSPs



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