Coronation: First Minister’s speech – 9 May 2023

Statement given by First Minister Humza Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 9 May 2023.

Presiding Officer

Just under two weeks ago, the Stone of Destiny began its journey to London, for the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles and Queen Camilla.

I attended the ceremony at Edinburgh Castle which marked that occasion, in my role as Keeper of the Great Seal.

And on Saturday, I represented Scotland at the coronation itself. 

As everyone who watched it will know, the Coronation ceremony - and the pageantry surrounding it - were rooted in tradition.  But it’s also the case that some of the traditions had been updated to reflect modern values.  The inclusion of a multi-faith element for example, in the ceremony, was a particularly welcome change. 

And that mix of the old and the new was also evident in wider celebrations.

In Scotland, the tenor and scale of the festivities has been different from previous Coronations.

But in many parts of the country, people still came together to watch the proceedings live – with family, with friends and indeed with neighbours.

Over the past few days, there have been street parties, there’s been afternoon teas, there’s been some special concerts, and, of course, some religious services too.

And all across Scotland, people have taken the time to perform acts of service – in line with the Coronation theme of helping out.  I joined with some of them yesterday, when I helped to pack food at the Whitfield Community Larder.

There will of course be further events, later this year, when His Majesty is presented with the Honours of Scotland at a ceremomy at St Giles Cathedral.  And in July, during Royal Week, the Scottish Government will take the opportunity to present Their Majesties with coronation gifts on behalf of the people of Scotland.

In doing so, we will be further marking an important constitutional milestone.

But we will also be symbolising the respect, the goodwill that is felt by many people in Scotland, for Their Majesties personally.

That goodwill has been built up over many years.

Her Majesty Queen Camilla has spoken, often, about her family’s own Scottish roots, and indeed her affinity to Scotland.

It was here where she undertook her very first public engagement – opening a school playground in Ballater, back in 2005.

And since then, she has forged strong ties with communities right across the country – not least, in her role as Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen.

His Majesty’s own affection for Scotland – and especially for Balmoral – is well known.

He too carried out His first royal duties here.  In 1965, the then sixteen year old Prince Charles met students at a garden party at Holyrood Palace.

And in the decades since, He has continued to serve – through His patronage of many Scottish charities and institutions, and perhaps most notably of all, through His work with the Prince’s Trust.

Indeed, it is his work with the Prince’s Trust that I particularly want to highlight in this contribution. There are of course varied views about the Monarchy in Scotland, however, what is indisputable is the incredible work that the Prince’s Trust has done with young people over many years, across the UK, including here in Scotland too.

As I’m sure is true for many members, I’ve seen the impact of that work first-hand. In 2019, I visited the Prince’s Trust Wolfson Centre in Glasgow.  And I had the great pleasure, the enormous pleasure, of meeting some of the young people whose lives the Trust had transformed.

Every year, in Scotland, more than 8000 disadvantaged young people benefit from support that Prince’s Trust provides. Through its various programmes, they get opportunities to meet new people, to learn new skills and build their confidence.  And as a result, they receive vital help in overcoming particularly challenging barriers, and, of course, to realising their potential.

Since it was established, the Prince’s Trust has helped to improve the lives of many people right across our country.

Its work is an important and enduring aspect of His Majesty’s contribution to our society, right here in Scotland.

But of course, the role that He has played in our national life spans over many years, and goes well beyond the Work he has done with the Princes Trust.

As Prince of Wales, His Majesty has been there for us, when Scotland has faced dark times – in the aftermaths of Piper Alpha, the Lockerbie bombing, and the Clutha helicopter crash.

But He has also shared with us many special moments  –  from the opening of the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival, with Diana, Princess of Wales; to the launch of COP26, when he spoke very powerfully indeed about the need for all of us to collectively tackle the climate emergency.

Like his mother, His Majesty has also been a good friend to this very Parliament.

He was present at our official opening in 1999.

He joined us for our anniversary celebrations, twenty years later.  

And in 2021, He attended – for the third time - the kirking of the parliament - the multi-faith service that we hold at the start of each new session.

Last year, His Majesty addressed us in this very Chamber, for the first time, a few days after his mother’s death.

He told us then that he was taking up his duties and I quote:

with thankfulness for all that Scotland has given me, with resolve to seek always the welfare of our country and its people, and with whole-hearted trust in your good will and good counsel as we take forward that task together.

Presiding Officer, it continues to be the case that there are different views in this Chamber, and right across the country, about the institution of monarchy.

But the commitment His Majesty has made – to serve the people– is one which we all share.

We’ve seen both Their Majesties demonstrate that commitment, over many years.

And so – whatever our constitutional views are – I think it is right that the Parliament marks this moment, by wishing them well. 

In doing so, we congratulate Their Majesties King Charles and Queen Camilla on their coronation.

We thank them for their continuing service to Scotland.

And we commit ourselves to working with them and helping them – in discharging the great responsibilities that they hold.

Presiding Officer, I move the motion in my name.

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