Queen marks Holyrood opening

The Queen has travelled to Edinburgh to take part in a ceremony marking the third session of the Scottish Parliament.

The monarch gave a speech praising the development of the independent executive since power was first devolved in 1999.

“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.

“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.”

First minister, and leader of the Scottish National party (SNP), Alex Salmond acknowledged that his views on Scotland’s future may not follow those of the Queen, but also spoke of the need for a full and balanced debate.

“Your Majesty, it will not have escaped your notice that I am the first SNP first minister that this parliament has elected,” he said.

“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.”

Earlier in the day crowds gathered along the historic city’s Royal Mile to greet the Queen who passed through a guard of honour from the Royal Company of Archers on her way into the parliament building.

The “Riding” procession, a tradition revived since 1999, saw Scottish MPs walk alongside figures from Scottish cultural and social life as the celebrations continued after the formal ceremony.

A free concert for the public, headlined by Scottish rock band Idlewild, will also take place later today.