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Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of her “deep respect” for the Queen, saying her private conversations with the monarch are one of the privileges of being Scotland’s First Minister.
Ms Sturgeon said she wanted the Queen and her successors to remain as head of state if Scotland became independent.
In an interview with the BBC, the First Minister said even those who were not “great supporters” of the monarchy still thought of her as a “quite extraordinary individual”.
She said: “One of the things that I feel great respect for the Queen around is just that dedication, that selfless commitment to duty and to service.”
It is SNP policy for the Queen and her successors to remain head of state, she said.
Speaking about her conversations with the Queen, Ms Sturgeon said: “I like her a lot – I have deep respect for her as many people do.
“The context of those conversations are rightly by convention completely private and confidential and I won’t breach that.
“But I think it is fair to say that, that opportunity to talk with her, to benefit from her knowledge, her wisdom and perhaps above all the completely unique perspective she has on modern world history, is something that I deeply value and will always really treasure.”
She continued: “I have benefited from it, I have learned from it and it is something I will always cherish.
“She is somebody who has had a front-row seat on the last 70 years of history.
“She has met every world leader over that time. She has seen up close and personal some of the key events of history.
“The knowledge that gives her, the wisdom that gives her, the perspective that gives her is much more valuable in these conversations then any specific thing that she will perhaps say.”
Earlier this week, the First Minister led a tribute to the Queen in the Scottish Parliament ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.