Queen meets Nicola Sturgeon on royal charm offensive to save the union

Queen meets Nicola Sturgeon on royal charm offensive to save the union and persuade Scotland to resist demands for independence months after SNP leader warned Kate and William over trip to Edinburgh during pandemic

  • Yesterday the Queen was joined by Prince William at Irn Bru factory on first day of week-long tour of Scotland
  • She has made her first official visit north of the border since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh
  • 2022 Platinum Jubilee Pageant is revealed – with celebrations including a 5,000-strong marching band

The Queen has met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as her week-long trip to protect the Union continues today.

The women, both wearing light blue, held a socially distanced meeting at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, this afternoon.

Her Majesty is leading a Royal charm offensive to help persuade Scotland to resist the demands of nationalists for independence – with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge playing a key supporting role.

The trip, which is being discreetly backed by Downing Street, began yesterday with a trip to the Irn Bru factory in Cumbernauld with the Duke of Cambridge supporting his grandmother. 

William was at a shipyard on the Clyde today and earlier this year gave a deeply personal speech in which he described the ‘special place’ that Scotland had in his heart, a country which he said held both some of his ‘happiest memories’ and his ‘saddest’.

It was at Balmoral where he learned of the death of his mother Diana, in 1997. And it was at St Andrews where he met and fell in love with Kate Middleton.

Ahead of the Queen’s meeting with the First Minister, there is a background of tension dating back years since they first met seven years ago.

Just last December furious Tories hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s ‘swipe’ at Prince William and Kate Middleton over their whistle-stop trip to Scotland.

The Scottish leader revealed at a daily briefing that the country’s government had reminded the Palace of the strict Covid restrictions north of the border ahead of the couple’s morale boosting tour. Travelling across the border at the time was permitted for work purposes and royal sources said that was exactly what the trip was, but Ms Sturgeon chose to warn them anyway.

Queen Elizabeth II receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week

The visit to Scotland, which is in its second day, marks the 95-year-old’s first official visit north of the border since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen smiled as they sat down for discussions at the time where the First Minister is pushing for a second independence referendum


The Queen appeared animated on camera and also listened intently to Ms Sturgeon, who has had a few bumpy moments with the Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth II also received Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alison Johnstone today

he Duke of Cambridge, known as the Earl of Strathearn in Scotland, walks with apprentice Cara Shannon during a visit to the BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow today

The Queen looked radiant in blue yesterday as she made her first trip to Scotland since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. The 95-year-old monarch and her husband of 73 years spent some of their happiest times north of the Border and she was supported by her doting grandson Prince William as they sampled Scotland’s favourite drink: Irn Bru. 

Ahead of the crucial trip, in a tweet, the Palace explained: “Her Majesty is connected to Scotland by ancestry and deeply held affection.

“The Queen has visited almost every area of Scotland from Outer Hebrides to Dumfries, meeting Scots from all walks of life.”

But it comes at an especially tense time when Ms Sturgeon is demanding a second independence referendum in the wake of the Holyrood election in May – but Boris Johnson’s Government won’t consider it.   

Some say that some sections of the SNP want a referendum on the monarchy if they win independence in the next decade.  

In 2014 Ms Sturgeon was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council and met the Queen for the first time. However there was an error when Buckingham Palace introduced her as the First Minister of the Scottish ‘executive’ – not the Scottish ‘government’. 

The Queen, 95, has arrived in Scotland for the first official visit north of the border since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Cambridge, known as the Earl of Strathearn in Scotland, tries Irn-Bru as Queen Elizabeth II as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week 

The 95-year-old monarch was joined by her grandson as she officially opened the factory’s new process facility

Her grandson, William, and daughter, Princess Anne, are also taking part, giving the Queen support on her visit.

The monarch is also expected to stay for a few days at Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, at the end of the week privately.

But yesterday it was very much business first – with a trip to the Irn-Bru factory putting some fizz into the visit.

While the sovereign tends to shy away from eating or drinking in public, the 39-year-old future king – known as the Earl of Strathearn in Scotland – had no hesitation in trying the country’s famous product.

He appeared intrigued when upstream manager Colin Reilly brought over a small jar containing the original 1901 clear ‘essence’ of Irn-Bru – a secret recipe of 32 ingredients known to three people.

After gingerly taking a long sniff the duke said: ‘I’m trying to guess what’s in it but that’s quite hard, isn’t it?’

Mr Reilly replied: ‘I’d love to tell you’, leaving William smiling as he added: ‘This is a closely guarded secret.’

Commercial director Jonathan Kemp asked if he had tried their product while a student at the University of St Andrews.

William said no, but explained that he had tried it during his time in the Army when it was often served as part of lunch. ‘Delicious!’ he said, knocking it back.

He and the Queen were at Irn-Bru maker AG Barr’s factory in Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, where they officially opened the company’s new process facility.

The Queen is carrying out events over the next four days with members of her family as part of her traditional trip to Scotland known as Holyrood Week.

The monarch, who has continued with her duties as head of state despite grieving for her late husband, is staying at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

In April the Daily Mail revealed that the Queen would continue with her public commitments after a short period of mourning but would be supported more by family members in the future.

The Queen’s presence in Scotland along with William and Anne is also notable at a time when the future of the Union is threatened by supporters of separation.

Buckingham Palace was at pains on its social media channels to stress the Queen’s affinity with the country, posting: ‘Her Majesty is connected to Scotland by ancestry and deeply held affection.

‘As well as spending family summers at Balmoral Castle, The Queen has visited almost every area of Scotland from the Outer Hebrides to Dumfries, meeting Scots from all walks of life.’

It also quoted her speech marking the 20th anniversary of the Scottish parliament, when she said: ‘I have noted on previous occasions my great affection for Scotland, and the many happy and personal connections I enjoy with this wonderful country.’

Yesterday saw the palace also post the company’s ‘strong arm’ emoji as it described her visit to the Irn-Bru factory.

 

Sunday spectacle! Plans for next year’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant are revealed – with celebrations including a 5,000-strong marching band, giant puppet dragon and a play written just for the Queen by Michael Morpurgo

The English capital is set to play host to marching bands, a giant dragon puppet and circus acts as part of spectacular pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, it was revealed today. 

Central London will come to life with colour, street theatre and dance in honour of the monarch’s long reign in what has been described as ‘something of a reopening ceremony for the United Kingdom’.

On February 6 2022, the Queen will have reigned as monarch for 70 years, the first time a British sovereign will have reached such a landmark – with a four-day bank holiday in the pipeline for Britons to mark the occasion in June.   

Details of the pageant, to be held on Sunday June 5th next year, were revealed at the official launch in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on Tuesday. 

Scroll down for video 

Plans for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant were revealed at the V&A Museum in London today with Pageant Master Adrian Evans detailing the highlights of next year’s celebration to be held on Sunday June 5th

The Sunday pageant will comprise three acts, with the first seeing both serving troops and veterans march along The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace (Pictured: The Queen in Scotland this week visiting key workers and volunteers at Holyrood House )

Organisers, including Pageant Master Adrian Evans said the event, with a budget of between £10 and £15 million and involving participants from across the UK and parts of the Commonwealth, is expected to be one of the biggest celebratory events held on home soil for decades.  

Throughout the year, the Queen and members of the royal family will travel around the country attending a range of events to mark the milestone, culminating with the Platinum Jubilee Weekend.  

Buckingham Palace said 2022’s extended break will run from Thursday, June 2 to Sunday, June 5 after the May bank holiday – which would have been on Monday, May 30 – was pushed back. 

The four-day weekend will begin on the Thursday with Trooping the Colour, which will be staged in full for the first time since the pandemic, and a service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s reign will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on the Saturday. 

Plans for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations have been released for the first time today as the Queen celebrates her 69th year on the British throne. Pictured, crowds outside Buckingham Palace

Sunday’s pageant will comprise of three acts, with the first seeing both serving troops and veterans take part in a march along The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The second act, entitled Celebration, will feature a puppet dragon larger than a double-decker bus with a wingspan the width of The Mall.

Others taking part will include a trapeze artist suspended underneath a huge balloon printed with an image of the Queen, as well as acrobats and other performers.

The specially-written fairy story There Once Is A Queen by renowned author Sir Michael Morpurgo will be brought to life through artists on the day.

On the Thursday of next year’s events, Trooping the Colour (pictured) is expected to be staged in full for the first time since the pandemic

The Queen is pictured during another celebration holding bouquets given to her by Britons

The pageant will have a nod to every decade of the Queen’s reign, and feature horses and corgis to reflect her passions.

Nicholas Coleridge, co-chairman of the pageant, said: ‘The Platinum Jubilee weekend is an opportunity for the country to emerge re-energised and renewed, expressing optimism and confidence.

‘It will be something of a reopening ceremony for the United Kingdom, following a period of uncertainty and hardship, a catalysing moment of unity and fun.

The Queen is pictured during a previous celebration taking flowers from eager crowds 

‘Through the fusion of ceremonial and pageantry with razzmatazz and festival, we intend to create a spectacle that is at once energising and memorable and a fitting tribute to the Queen.’

Details of the pageant’s third act, the finale, are being kept secret for now.

The pageant will be privately funded, organisers said, through a mix of corporate partners, business and individuals. 

The bank holiday celebration will be marked with national events including a live concert featuring some of the world’s biggest stars to a service of thanksgiving – and a day at the races. 

Individual members of the royal family have yet to be named in the plans but it is likely the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the monarchy will attend various events.

A live concert will be staged at Buckingham Palace – Platinum Party at the Palace – during the Saturday of the long weekend. Performers have yet to be named but it is billed as bringing together some of the world’s biggest entertainment stars to celebrate the most significant and joyous moments from the Queen’s seven-decade reign.

Other highlights include a day at the races for the Queen – a keen horse breeder – and her family who will fill the royal box for the Derby, held at Epsom Downs, before the concert.

The Queen’s four-day Platinum Jubilee celebration: Buckingham Palace reveals how Her Majesty’s 70-year reign will be remembered 

Thursday June 2, 2022

The Queen’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour): More than 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians will come together in the traditional Parade to mark The Queen’s official birthday, usually held on the second Saturday in June.

Beginning at Buckingham Palace, the Parade will move down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade, joined by Members of the Royal Family on horseback and in carriages. The Parade will close with the traditional RAF fly-past, watched by The Queen and Members of the Royal Family from the Buckingham Palace balcony.

Platinum Jubilee Beacons: The United Kingdom’s long tradition of celebrating Royal Jubilees, Weddings and Coronations with the lighting of beacons will be continued to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories.

For the first time, beacons will also be lit in each of the capital cities of the Commonwealth countries to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Friday June 3, 2022

Service of Thanksgiving: A Service of Thanksgiving for The Queen’s reign will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral. Further events will be announced in due course.

Saturday June 4, 2022

The Derby at Epsom Downs: Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by Members of the Royal Family, will attend the Derby at Epsom Downs.

Platinum Party at the Palace: The BBC will stage and broadcast a special live concert from Buckingham Palace that will bring together some of the world’s biggest entertainment stars to celebrate the most significant and joyous moments from The Queen’s seven decade reign. Members of the public will be invited to apply to attend this special event and details of the ballot for UK residents to secure audience tickets will be released in due course.

Sunday June 5, 2022

The Big Jubilee Lunch: Every year since the idea began in 2009 The Big Lunch has encouraged communities to celebrate their connections and get to know each other a little bit better, coming together in a spirit of fun and friendship. In 2022 The Big Lunch will bring the Jubilee celebrations into the heart of every community.

People are invited to share friendship, food and fun with neighbours as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. A Big Jubilee Lunch can be big or small – street party or picnic, tea and cake or a garden barbeque. The Big Lunch provides tips and ideas for hosting an event.

The Platinum Jubilee Pageant: A pageant featuring over 5,000 people from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth will take place against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding streets. It will combine street arts, theatre, music, circus, carnival and costume and celebrate the service of Her Majesty’s reign, as well as honouring the collective service of people and communities across the country. 

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