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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Queen opens Welsh assembly
The Queen at the Welsh Assembly
The Queen opened the assembly's second term
The second term of the Welsh assembly has been officially opened by the Queen.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles attended the opening of the assembly in Cardiff Bay, as well as a variety of functions across the Welsh capital.

The Queen was met at the assembly by party leaders before addressing AMs in the chamber.

She told them of her "continuing interest" in the assembly's work and the "essential role it increasingly plays" in the lives of people in Wales.

"The steps towards devolution enacted at the very end of the 20th century, including the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales, are now defined features of the political landscape of the United Kingdom.

"They are being accommodated and embraced within that vital and sustaining structure shaped by centuries of pragmatic evolution which we know as the British constitution."

She also said she shared concerns about the decline in turn-out at elections.

She said: "Democratic election is the fundamental means by which every elector can participate in the business of government."

The assembly is well-placed to address the diverse communities of this ancient land
Prince Charles

She also praised the gender balance of the Assembly.

Last month's election saw 30 men and 30 women voted in.

"How proud you must all be that this new assembly is the first legislative body in Europe, perhaps in the world, to have equal numbers of women and men among its members," she said.

Prince Charles, addressing the assembly in Welsh, which he learned as a student in Aberystwyth, said the assembly was part of Wales' evolution as a country.

He added: "Wales has it's own identity and voice.

"The assembly is part of its evolution into a distinct and vibrant country, playing an important role in the UK and on the world stage.

"The assembly is well-placed to address the diverse communities of this ancient land."

According to First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the visit by the royals focus attention on the Assembly.

"It is our job over the next four years to maintain that focus, that attention and that supreme test of relevance in everything we do and say," he said.

Before the opening of the assembly, the three Royals attended a multi-faith service at the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Butetown.

The Queen
The Queen also visited a parish church in Butetown

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told the congregation the Welsh assembly was there to serve the people of Wales, particularly the poor and marginalised.

The Archbishop also spoke of the need for politicians to show humility and apologise for their mistakes.

Before the Royal visit, it was revealed that Prince Charles regularly meets First Minister Rhodri Morgan for updates on devolved politics.

Mr Morgan told BBC Wales that the meetings were part of the Royal Family's attempts to keep up-to-date with politics since devolution in Scotland and Wales.

"The Royal Family sees itself as adapting to devolution," said Mr Morgan.

"They take an interest in how devolution in Wales and Scotland affects the body politic throughout the UK."

Busy week

The visit to Cardiff is part of a busy week for the Queen, who opened the new term of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

And on Wednesday, she visited Wrexham and Flintshire in north Wales.

Thursday's opening ceremony was boycotted by Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood.

"I would prefer to see an opening ceremony which includes the ordinary people of Wales," she said.

However, she has been dubbed a "little madam" by Tory assembly leader Nick Bourne, who said she was being childish.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Wyre Davies in Cardiff
"The Queen seems to be keeping an eye on the new body"


BBC Wales' Penny Roberts
"This was a celebration for the assembly and the docks community"



SEE ALSO:
Queen completes Wrexham visit
04 Jun 03  |  North East Wales
Call to end AMs' royal pledge
31 Dec 02  |  Wales
Queen reveals changes for Wales
13 Nov 02  |  Wales
Queen addresses Welsh Assembly
13 Jun 02  |  Wales
Assembly 'insult' to Prince
10 May 00  |  Wales
Royal celebration for Wales
26 May 99  |  Politics
Prince Charles's tattoo curiosity
05 Jun 03  |  South East Wales
In pictures: Prince Charles
05 Jun 03  |  Photo Gallery


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