Scots flock to opening of their new Parliament

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Indy Politics

The Queen opened the new Scottish Parliament building yesterday, acknowledging its "difficult and controversial birth".

Politicians and guests, including Sir Sean Connery, crowded into Holyrood in Edinburgh to celebrate the opening of a building some three years overdue and nearly 10 times over budget at £431m.

The formal ceremony ended with an unscripted public singing of "Auld Lang Syne". The Queen appeared to join in discreetly, but she did not go as far as to join hands with the presiding officer, George Reid, who was standing next to her.

Earlier in the day, more than 1,000 people from all sections of Scottish society set off down the Royal Mile, its pavements packed with thousands of onlookers, for a procession towards the new Parliament.

Inside, the First Minister, Jack McConnell, spoke of a newly confident Scotland with a Parliament that had come of age.

In her address, the Queen said: "At a time when politicians around the world wonder how to draw closer to those they represent, I was particularly moved this morning by watching all those who proudly made their way down the Royal Mile.

"It is the task of this Parliament to give voice to the hopes of these people, their families and friends."

The Queen hailed the Holyrood building as remarkable, and mentioned its "difficult and controversial birth".

She added: "But that is all the more reason to ensure that, with the energy, flair and determination for which Scots are renowned the world over, Holyrood comes to be seen as a landmark of 21st-century democracy."

It was a day of mixed emotions for the relatives of the architect of Scottish devolution, Donald Dewar. Speaking before the event, the children of the late First Minister said they would feel sad because he wasn't there to see it. His son, Iain, added: "But it will be a day of celebration and he would have loved it so much."