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UK's Queen Elizabeth speaks of 'deep affection' for Scotland as she opens parliament

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AP
UK's Queen Elizabeth speaks of 'deep affection' for Scotland as she opens parliament
Copyright  Jane Barlow/PA Media

Queen Elizabeth II opened the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday and reflected on the "deep and abiding affection'' she and her late husband, Prince Philip, shared for Scotland.

The 95-year-old monarch arrived for the ceremony with her son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, who in Scotland are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

"The beginning of a new session is a time for renewal and fresh thinking, providing an opportunity to look to the future and our future generations," the Queen said during her remarks to lawmakers at Holyrood.

That opportunity is especially ripe this year, she said, with the United Nations' annual climate summit scheduled to take place in a month's time in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city Glasgow. The Queen said she will be attending the event, known as COP26 for short.

"The eyes of the world will be on the United Kingdom — and Scotland, in particular — as leaders come together to address the challenges of climate change," she said.

In response to the Queen's speech, Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, thanked the monarch for being a "steadfast friend" of the Scottish Parliament since its establishment in 1999.

"As we battle through the storm of a global pandemic, hope and the hankering for change is perhaps felt more strongly by more people than at any time in our recent history," she said.

Though Sturgeon's Scottish National Party, or SNP, wants the country to be independent of the UK, its stated policy is to retain the monarchy.

But Sturgeon has said in the past that the long-term future of the monarchy should be up for debate.

If Scotland does become independent it's unclear if Britain's monarch, whether the Queen or her son Prince Charles, would remain Scotland's head of state.

Many members of the SNP say they would prefer an elected head of state.