In a speech, the Queen urged MSPs to “help create a better, healthier future” by tackling climate change ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow.
She also shared the happy memories that she had with the late Prince Philip as she spoke at Holyrood for the first time since his death.
The Queen was also joined by Prince Phillip and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, during the ceremony earlier today.
She also shared her “hope and optimism” as Scotland emerged from “adverse and uncertain times” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The beginning of a new session is a time for renewal and fresh thinking, providing an opportunity to look to the future and out future generations”, the Queen said.
“Next month, I will be attending COP26 events in Glasgow.
“The eyes of the world will be on the United Kingdom – and Scotland in particularly – as leaders come together to address the challenges of climate change.
“There is a key role for the Scottish Parliament, as with all parliaments, to help create a better, healthier future for us all, and to engage with the people they represent – especially our young people.”
She added: “Today is also a day when we can celebrate those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the lives of other people in Scotland, locally or nationally during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here.
“It is often said that it is the people that make a place. And there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland. As we have seen in recent times.
“We all know of the difficult circumstances that many people have encountered during the last 18 months.
“However, alongside this have been countless examples of resilience and goodwill.
“Following my grandson’s time as Lord High Commissioner, Prince William has told me many heartening stories that he heard first hand of people and communities across Scotland uniting to protect and care for those who are isolated or vulnerable.”
The ceremony also featured music, poetry and speeches by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and Nicola Sturgeon.
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Responding to the Queen’s speech, the First Minister offered the parliament’s “deep sympathy and shared sorrow at your loss” and thanked her for being a “steadfast friend of our Parliament since its establishment in 1999”.
Ms Sturgeon continued: “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.
“That gives this Parliament a momentous responsibility and a historic opportunity.
“Covid has been the biggest crisis to confront the world since the Second World War – it has caused pain and heartbreak, it has exposed and exacerbated the inequalities within our society.
“But it has also revealed humankind’s boundless capacity for inventiveness, solidarity and love.
“And for those of us in public service, it has reminded us that with collective political will, changes that we might previously have thought impossible or just too difficult can indeed be achieved.
“In the months ahead, we must take the same urgency and resolve with which we have confronted this pandemic and apply it to the hard work of recovery and renewal, to the task of building a fairer and greener future for this and the generations who come after us.”
The monarch, who has been on her annual break at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, met party and parliamentary leaders in the garden lobby ahead of the ceremony in the debating chamber.
The ceremony began with the royal mace that sits at the front of the chamber and the Crown of Scotland being brought in, with parliamentary clerk Rea Cris carrying the mace and the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, the hereditary keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, carrying the crown.
The Royal Conservatoire Brass played Fanfare for the Opening of Parliament 2021, composed by John Wallace, to greet the Queen as she entered the chamber.
As the Queen departed the chamber afterwards, Farewell To The Creeks was played by the Scottish Parliament’s piper, Stuart McMillan MSP, from the Members’ Garden.
Afterwards, the Queen, Charles and Camilla were due to meet Scots who have been recognised for their contribution to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.