SCOTLAND's longest-serving First Minister was the most notable absentee from yesterday’s devolution celebration with the Queen.

The Parliament said Alex Salmond, who was charged earlier this year with attempted rape, was “unable to attend” the gala event, but offered no more details.

The Queen’s speech in the Holyrood chamber, part of an event to mark the twentieth anniversary of devolution, was made in front of serving and former MSPs.

Scotland was run by a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition in the first eight years of the Parliament, following which there have been terms of minority and majority SNP rule.

Salmond was First Minister between 2007 and 2014 and his time in office was marked by some of the most notable episodes of devolution, such as the independence referendum.

However, after losing the referendum he was replaced by protege Nicola Sturgeon and he returned to Westminster.

His relationship with the Government he used to lead hit rock bottom last year after civil servants investigated allegations of sexual harassment against him when he was in office.

Although the Government probe was judged to be illegal, he was later charged with 14 offences: nine charges of sexual assault, two of attempted rape, two of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace. He strenuously denies any criminality.

All three former First Ministers - Salmond, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell - were invited to yesterday’s event, but only McLeish was present.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “As is customary, all of the former First Ministers were invited to the ceremony. Mr McLeish accepted the invitation. Mr Salmond and Mr McConnell indicated they were unable to attend.”

Mr Salmond did not respond to an email.