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Truss and Sturgeon join King Charles III for queen's thanksgiving service

Charles will visit Northern Ireland tomorrow for a memorial service, which the Taoiseach and President will attend.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 12th 2022, 6:52 PM

featureimage The king, the queen consort and other members of the royal family at St Giles’ Cathedral Jane Barlow Jane Barlow

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Liz Truss and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined King Charles III at a service of thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth II in one of Scotland’s most ancient churches.

The queen’s coffin was this evening carried by eight soldiers into St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The king, the queen consort and other members of the royal family then walked to their seats.

Opening the service, the Rev Calum MacLeod reminded the congregation who came from different sections of society including her staff, the emergency services, armed forces and politics of the great history of the cathedral, first built 900 years ago.

“So, we gather to bid Scotland’s farewell to our late monarch, whose life of service to the nation and the world we celebrate,” he said.

“And whose love for Scotland was legendary.”

Sturgeon, who was sat close to the British Prime Minister, gave a reading from Ecclesiastes, which begins “For everything a season” and reminds us that “all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil”.

The current leaders of the Scottish political parties were there, as well as veterans of politics like Alex Salmond and David Steel.

embedded268784601 British Prime Minister Liz Truss was among those at the service Jane Barlow Jane Barlow

In his homily, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields said: “Much has been said about the Queen’s contribution to the life of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth which meant so much to her.

“But here in Scotland we acknowledge with gratitude her deep links with our land and its people.

“Her love of the Balmoral estate is well known and being there latterly brought her great comfort.

“There she was valued as a neighbour and friend, and there she drew strength and refreshment during the summer months.

“She was active in the life of civic Scotland, travelling across the country to support numerous causes, entertaining guests at Holyrood Palace, and presiding at ceremonial events, many of which took place in this church.”

First speech to Parliament 

Earlier today, King Charles III delivered his first speech in Westminster Hall as both Houses of British Parliament gathered to express their condolence to him.

Charles quoted Shakespeare as he spoke of tributes and monuments to his mother inside the Palace of Westminster and spoke of feeling the “weight of history” as he stood inside the historic room.

Speaking from a gilded lectern, he said: “I am deeply grateful for the addresses of condolence.”

He said the addresses “touchingly encompass what our late sovereign, my beloved mother the Queen, meant to us all”.

“As Shakespeare says of the earlier Queen Elizabeth, she was ‘a pattern to all princes living’.”

“As I stand before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history which surrounds us and which reminds us of the vital parliamentary traditions to which members of both Houses dedicate yourselves with such personal commitment, for the betterment of us all.”

speaker-of-the-house-of-commons-sir-lindsay-hoyle-walks-past-king-charles-iii-and-the-queen-consort-at-westminster-hall-london-where-both-houses-of-parliament-are-meeting-to-express-their-condolence King Charles III and the queen consort at Westminster Hall in London today Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Northern Ireland visit 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will attend a memorial service for the Queen in Northern Ireland tomorrow, alongside President Michael D Higgins.

The Taoiseach also confirmed he will travel to attend the Queen’s funeral in London next week.

Martin said: “I will be going to Belfast tomorrow. The President and I we have been invited to the memorial service and we will go to that tomorrow.”

He was speaking at the Fianna Fáil party think-in in Mullingar.

Charles and Camilla will travel to Hillsborough Castle and Belfast on Tuesday for several engagements.

queen-elizabeth-ii-death Floral tributes at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down. PA PA

The trip to Northern Ireland follows the visit to Scotland today, with a trip to Wales planned for later in the week.

A significant security operation is under way in the Co Down village of Hillsborough ahead of the royal visit.

Prior to this visit, a special sitting of the Stormont assembly was held today where the Queen was described as a “courageous and gracious leader” who contributed to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Speaker Alex Maskey opened the session, which heard tributes to the late monarch from both unionist and nationalist parties.

Speaking first, Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill said the queen’s life and legacy will be “fondly remembered by many people around the world”.

“Today I wish to record the value and respect I place on the significant contribution Queen Elizabeth made to the advancement of peace and reconciliation between the different traditions on our island, and between Ireland and Britain during the years of the peace process,” she said.

“I recognise that she was a courageous and gracious leader.”

O’Neill added: “She made real efforts, and in good faith, to build relationships with those of us who are Irish, and who share a different political allegiance to herself and her Government, and who wish to exercise our right to self-determination based on consent to achieve reunification and a shared island for all.

“There is an onus on us all in politics and public life, but also the whole community, to follow her example and strengthen the bonds of friendship that will bring people and communities together.”

O’Neill also said she wanted to “extend the hand of friendship” to the new king.

The DUP’s Gordon Lyons told the Assembly that no tribute or eulogy could do justice to the life of the queen.

He said: “Since the news of her death last Thursday, many people in Northern Ireland, across the UK and throughout the world have felt deep sorrow at the passing of someone who, as it has often been said, we will never see the like of again.

“Some have even confessed to being taken aback by just how sad they feel about the passing of someone they had never met.

“I believe the great sadness that has been so evident across the country exists because we are beginning to realise what it is that we have lost.

“For so many people, she was the constant: the unchanging presence in all the seasons of our national and public life.

“In an ever-changing world, in times of great national joy and celebration and times of sorrow, sadness and grief – she was the anchor: one we could look to for stability, continuity and comfort.”

Lyons said the queen had a “unique capacity to bring us together”.

“As we witness the national outpouring of grief and love for her, we recognise that in death she still unites us,” he added.

MLAs will sign a book of condolence later.

Includes reporting by Diarmuid Pepper and Press Association

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