Today was the formal opening of the 6th session of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Her Majesty the Queen opened the session, accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke & Duchess of Rothesay. Soldiers from across the Army paraded to help mark the occasion, participants coming from a wide range of units, both from Scotland and beyond.
A contingent from F Company, Scots Guards escorted the Crown to Parliament from its resting place in Edinburgh Castle and then lined the route from the Palace of Holyroodhouse as the Queen proceeded from the Palace to formally open the session.
As they marched down from the Castle Esplanade they were led by 2 SCOTS Pipes & Drums. In an unusual turn the parade was diverted off the Royal Mile due to roadworks and followed a roundabout route along parallel streets before re-joining and finishing at the Queensbury House entrance to the Scottish Parliament building in front of a crowd of well-wishers, locals and tourists.
Before the parade stepped off, soldiers from 2nd and 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2&3 SCOTS) had mounted Guards at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle.
As Her Majesty stepped from the car a firing party from 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery fired a Royal Gun Salute to mark the occasion. At the Gun Salute were Baroness Goldie (Minister of State for Defence, MOD), General Officer Scotland Major-General Bill Wright, Governor of Edinburgh Castle Major-General Alastair Bruce of Crionaich and Commander 51 Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland Brigadier Ben Wrench, 3 SCOTS Pipes & Drums provided the music.
The Royal Company of Archers provided the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland.
The Opening Ceremony is a tradition started in 1999 to mark the beginning of every new session of the current Scottish Parliament following its establishment by the Scotland Act in 1998, the original Scottish Parliament (also known as the Estates of Scotland) ran from the 13th Century until 1707 when the Act of Union merged the kingdoms and established the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Since the establishment of the modern Scottish Parliament in 1998 each time a new session has started, following a General Election, the military has provided a Guard and Escort and a Royal Gun Salute has fired.
The Escort and other Ceremonial activity takes place following hours of preparation and rehearsal by the soldiers under the watchful eye of the Edinburgh Garrison Sergeant Major to make sure that the day goes smoothly and professionally.
F Coy, Scots Guards are based in London and usually provide the Royal Guard in London and Windsor. The Palace & Castle Guard from 2 SCOTS are based in Penicuik and 3 SCOTS in Fort George. 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery normally specialise on Surveillance and Target Acquisition and are based in Catterick, North Yorkshire.