Ian Blackford tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'For many of us in Scotland, she was Elizabeth, Queen of Scots'
Her Majesty the Queen during a walkabout in Forfar, Scotland (PA Images/Alamy)
In my experience of Westminster Parliament, there are only two events which see it truly unite in common voice and spirit. The first is an event of historic magnitude and the second is the loss of a person who embodied an era.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II very uniquely represents both of those events. The last number of days have seen a moment of strange intimacy for a person we all had a sense of knowing throughout our adult lives. However, it has equally been a moment of deep understanding that the passing of this one life also marks the end of an age.
The powerful tributes in the Houses of Commons last Friday echoed the united sentiments of people throughout these islands. Whether a supporter of monarchy or not, the passing of this remarkable woman is worthy of the sorrow and the significance it has been publicly met with. A life of dignity and duty is worthy of the warmth which has been the very natural response to the memory of her seven decades at the pinnacle of public life.
There were few individuals, let alone heads of state, who experienced the sheer scale of history that unfolded during her time. Through war and peace, through boom and bust, through the advances in technology and communication and up to the dawn of the internet age, to many, she was their constant through change. She was their ever-present figure as she bore witness to the evolution of these islands into the modern era. A thread of continuity running through the fabric of the Commonwealth – at once tying societies to our shared histories while making new history.
It is very difficult to overstate that source of stability through the turbulence of modern life.
For those of us in Scotland, the relationship between our nation and the Queen was one of shared admiration. The thousands upon thousands who stood by country lanes, village paths, motorways overpasses and the Royal Mile itself, as her coffin made its way to Edinburgh from the Highlands, was a public and personal demonstration of the genuine affection in which she was held by our people. That affection will endure.
It is right that these islands collectively give her the fondest of farewells
As I said last week, while she was everyone’s Queen, for many of us in Scotland, she was Elizabeth, Queen of Scots.
That she found her final rest in Scotland was both poignant and somehow deeply appropriate. It was clear that since her childhood, her beloved Balmoral has been a place of peace and rest for her throughout her life and, perhaps particularly so, following the death of her husband, life companion and love, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Highlands are the essence of what we often casually refer to as the “great outdoors”. And it was there, surrounded by her family, her dogs, her horses and the beautiful wilderness of that place, that she was truly free to be at ease.
Balmoral was a place of silence and sanctuary for her and it is fitting that it was there that she went to her peace.
In the coming days, it is right that these islands collectively give her the fondest of farewells and offer our sympathies to all of her family. Hers was the longest of reigns, a life remarkably well lived and a legacy that will last.
May she now rest, eternally, in peace.
Ian Blackford is the SNP's Westminster Leader
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