King quotes Robert Burns as he makes first appearance at Scottish Parliament

·4-min read
The King, accompanied by the Queen Consort, addressed MSPs during a debate on a motion of condolence in honour of the Queen (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
The King, accompanied by the Queen Consort, addressed MSPs during a debate on a motion of condolence in honour of the Queen (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

The King quoted Robert Burns as he spoke to MSPs in Holyrood for the first time as monarch.

Responding to a motion of condolence tabled as the Scottish Parliament, Charles paid tribute to his late mother, who he said he was “determined” to emulate in her service to the country.

Addressing assembled MSPs, former first ministers, presiding officers and leading figures from Scottish civil society, the new King quoted from the famed Scottish poet as he praised his mother’s life of “incomparable service”.

“If I might paraphrase the words of the great Robert Burns, my dear mother was the friend of man, the friend of truth, the friend of age and guide of youth,” he said.

“Few hearts like her with virtue warmed, few heads with knowledge so informed.”

The quote was taken from Burns’ Epitaph On My Own Friend.

Charles went on to say: “While still very young, the Queen pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the principles of constitutional government.

“As we now mark with gratitude a promise most faithfully fulfilled, I am determined with God’s help and with yours to follow that inspiring example.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tabled the motion of condolence and described the late monarch in her speech as the “anchor of our nation”.

The King spoke to MSPs on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
The King spoke to MSPs on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

“In an ever changing and often turbulent world, Her Majesty has been our constant,” the First Minister said.

Ms Sturgeon also assured the new King he would have the support of Scotland in carrying on the legacy of his mother.

“Scotland “stands ready” to support King Charles III as he continues his mother’s legacy of public service, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

“We are honoured by the presence today of His Majesty, King Charles III, and the Queen Consort,” she said.

“Your Majesty, we stand ready to support you, as you continue your own life of service – and as you build on the extraordinary legacy of your beloved mother, our Queen.

“Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Scots – we are grateful for her life.

“May she now rest in peace.”

In a lighter moment from the proceedings, the First Minister told of how her husband saved one of the Queen’s corgis from being electrocuted during a stay at Balmoral.

The First Minister said Peter Murrell stopped the dog, a puppy named Sandy, from chewing through a lamp switch after a light began to flicker at Balmoral.

The King, accompanied by the Queen Consort arrived in Holyrood for the first time since taking the throne (Fraser Bremner/PA) (PA Wire)
The King, accompanied by the Queen Consort arrived in Holyrood for the first time since taking the throne (Fraser Bremner/PA) (PA Wire)

“To my great alarm, he was, after all, in the presence of Her Majesty, my husband suddenly leapt up and darted across the floor,” the First Minister said.

“Peter had spotted the cause of the flickering light.

“One of the Queen’s young corgis, a beautiful pup called Sandy, was eating through a lamp switch.

“Thankfully, tragedy was averted and Sandy emerged unscathed, though not before a ticking off from his mistress.”

The First Minister was joined by the leaders of all parties in Holyrood in expressing their sympathies, as well as Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone.

The text of the motion read: “That the Parliament expresses its deepest regret and grief at the death of Her Majesty The Queen; conveys its sincere condolences to His Majesty The King and other members of the Royal Family in their bereavement; affirms the great affection and esteem in which Her Majesty was held, and expresses gratitude for her life of exceptional public service and her long and close association with Scotland and the Scottish people.”

The proceeding in the Scottish Parliament came just hours after the Queen’s coffin passed thousands of onlookers on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on its way from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral.

The monarch arrived back at the Scottish Parliament after being part of a procession that walked from the Palace at the foot of the Royal Mile to the cathedral and was met by Ms Johnstone who – after introducing him and the Queen Consort to Deputy Presiding Officers Annabelle Ewing and Liam McArthur – escorted the monarch to the Garden Lobby to meet the leaders of Scotland’s political parties.

There, they spoke with the First Minister, Tory leader Douglas Ross, Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater and Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

MSP Stuart McMillan played the bagpipes from the gallery as the Presiding Officer escorted the King and Queen Consort from the chamber, before the monarch met with young people in the main hall of the parliament.