MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament have paid a final tribute to the Queen.

Holyrood returned on Tuesday morning following the end of the official mourning period following the monarch's death in Balmoral 11 days ago. 

SNP, Tory, Labour and Lib Dem MSPs all took part in the debate. 

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney opened proceedings by thanking the “public servants in Scotland across many organisations and partners who worked with care, precision and commitment” on the arrangements following the Queen’s death. 

The debate came as the Royal Family released a stunning new picture of the Queen in Balmoral. 

Mr Swinney told MSPs of the day when the sovereign visited his constituency in 2012 to grant Perth city status. 

However, on the morning he had been on the radio “dealing with the prospect of job losses at the Hall’s of Broxburn sausage factory.” 

He added: “When I was introduced to the Queen, I thought that she might ask me something about local matters of interest in Perthshire.

"She rather wrong-footed me, however, by expressing her concerns about the possible loss of jobs at Hall’s of Broxburn, and she wished me well in my efforts to avoid that happening. 

“I never knew whether that was a product of impeccable briefing by royal staff or the reputed keen interest of the Queen in following the broadcast media, and now I shall never know the answer to that question of intrigue.”

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said he was “surprised” by his own “deep sense of loss and reflection.”

He told MSPs: “Indeed, my teenage self would be almost horrified by it. As a teenage political geek, I spent much time thinking about constitution and reform, but not much time thinking about monarchy. 

“If someone asked me about the royal family, I would instead refer them to my dear, departed aunt Mary, who was both a corgi breeder and the owner of probably the best collection of commemorative china in Edinburgh.

"I am not sure whether her corgis were directly related to those of the Queen or whether that was just heavily implied.

“I think that that personal reaction has been shared across the nation—and across nations—because the Queen’s was a remarkable life. For all of us who aspire to public service, she stands as a shining example.”

Tory MSP Sharon Dowey said no monarch in modern history “has had such an impact on either their nation or the world.” 

The SNP MSP Fergus Ewing said there was deep affection for the Queen in rural Scotand in particular.

He told MSPs: “My experience as an MSP and when farming minister was that our farmers in Scotland are rarely given to overt displays of emotion or sentiment.

"Not for them the showing of affection in public—or maybe that was just their reaction to me when I was farming minister.

"At any rate, however, their respect and love for their Queen was clearly demonstrated in the now-famous tractor tribute by the local north-east farmers—a display that was captured so well in the aerial photographs that I am sure were seen throughout the world.

"Our farmers were devoted to her and they admired and loved her.”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said the long serving Queen had a "huge impact" on people's lives.

He said: “My mother, who died last year, always kept on the mantelpiece in the living room the card that she and my father had received from Buckingham palace to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. 

“My mother, who was very ill towards the end of her life and suffered from severe dementia, failed to recognise many faces, but the one face that she continued to recognise was that of Her Majesty the Queen, which appeared on the card from the palace. 

“That is a small indication of the huge impact that our longest-serving monarch had on people’s lives. Her face had become recognisable not only to people in the United Kingdom but to people around the world."

Lib Dem Willie Rennie paid tribute to the strength of King Charles. He said: "For those who have lost close relatives and have stood in the kirk as the funeral service ends, it is an agonising moment—it is difficult to hold in your emotions when you have lost someone so close. 

“I cannot imagine what the King has felt like: from the very moment that his mother died, for the last hours, days and weeks, he has had to put on a public face; he has shown great professionalism.

"The turmoil in that man and the rest of the family must be extraordinary. We must think about the service that the King has already shown, just through those simple acts of professionalism, while his heart is whirling with turmoil.”

Alexander Burnett told the chamber of the Queen’s “great friendship of more than 80 years” with his late grandmother, Lady Kennard.

He said he had "many meetings that I was so honoured to enjoy and will forever treasure."

He told MSPs: “As Balmoral is in my constituency, I learned at first hand about Her Majesty’s knowledge of detail. After being selected to stand for the Aberdeenshire West seat, and being by chance at a birthday celebration, I cheekily inquired whether Her Majesty wished to raise any local issues. 

“However, my attempt at humour quickly backfired, as I received an extremely detailed critique of how a planning application for a cottage had fallen foul of local guidelines. Never have the words, “‘I’m afraid that’s a council matter, ma’am,’ been so well used as I retreated.

Labour's Michael Marra said he was struck by "the space between the person and the performance, between Queen and crown, and between meaning and mourning—the private and the public."

He said: "The best of empathy was in those first hours as we felt not just a jolt of history but the sad death of an elderly and kindly woman, which evoked all of our losses of grandmothers, aunts and mothers.

"The pandemic made much of that grief more immediate for many people who remembered those who were lost in care homes or in isolation.

"The late Queen bore witness to that pandemic as a bookend to a storied reign. She sat alone and apart with the singular stillness of the watcher. She was witness to war, to privations and pains, and to justice and joy."

While "position, privilege and protection" had "set her apart from the day to day" there was "a real sense that she carried a full measure of the people’s pain." 

There was also a tribute for Holyrood's newest member, Roz McCall. The Conservative has replaced Dean Lockhart who quit the parliament earlier this month to take up a job with a business organisation that works with governments, local authorities and third sector bodies to deliver net zero targets.

Ms McCall told MSPs: "Two weeks ago, when I was sat watching television, I could not have imagined that I would be standing here addressing the chamber, and I certainly could not have imagined that my first speech would be to voice my respect for Her Majesty the Queen after she had passed and to thank her for her tireless and selfless devotion to serving her people and this country—so many changes in such a short time."


She added: "As I start in my new role as a member of the Scottish Parliament, I am reminded of the Queen’s Christmas broadcast back in 1974, when many of the concerns that people faced were very similar to those of today, with a cost of living rise, extreme weather events, such as flooding, and uncertainty about our future.

"In that address, the Queen said: 'There are indeed real dangers and there are real fears and we will never overcome them if we turn against each other with angry accusations.

'We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.'

"Thank you, Your Majesty, for your words of wisdom. I hope to work to your example. Rest in peace, ma’am, and God save the King."