THE QUEEN has called on MSPs to “strengthen the bonds of friendship and partnership both at home and abroad.”

Speaking at an event in Holyrood to mark the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament’s reconvening, the Queen talked of her “great affection for Scotland”, and her “many happy and personal connections” with “this wonderful country”.

She told MSPs it was worth reflecting that at the heart of the word Parliament lies its original meaning: “a place to talk.”

“I have no doubt that for most of these last 20 years this striking chamber has provided exactly that, a place to talk.

“But of course it must also be a place to listen – a place to hear views that inevitably may differ quite considerably, one from another – and a place to honour those views.”

READ: Jackie Kay's poem for Holyrood 20th anniversary celebration

Responding to the Queen’s speech, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the 290 acts passed by Parliament over the last two decades had “varied in their impact”.

“But from land reform in the first parliament to equal marriage in the last to the Social Security Act in this, they have all made Scotland a better place.

"As a result this parliament is firmly established as the centre of this nation's public life. We have become the democratic institution which people look to, to reflect their priorities, values, hopes and dreams.

"And we are now looking forward to a new decade in which this parliament will build new institutions and I am sure see further change and development."

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In her speech, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she had watched the opening of Parliament in Edinburgh University’s Student Union.

"I didn't know then what a Scottish parliament would look or sound like," she said.

"How it would change the political landscape and grow to dominate our country's public life.

"But there was a sense that for our generation the equation had changed, that evolution offered new possibilities, not just for Scotland but all our family of nations."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Holyrood had not yet reached its full potential: "We began to reform the ownership of our land ... but too much power still lies in too few hands.

"We have legislated for equality, but too much inequality still persists – inequalities of race and religion, of sex, gender and sexuality, of disability, of age, and of class."

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie said that election had helped "pave the way for the growth of the Green parties throughout these islands".

The first parliament repealed Section 28, which had banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

"We saw parliament take on an issue which was harming us, face down prejudice and assert our equal place in Scottish society," he said.

"Since that time a marginalised community has grown in confidence, thanks to a parliament which to this day has never once voted against our equality and human rights."

Harvie continued: "We're now living in a time of political turmoil, uncertainty, in the midst of a climate emergency, and an ecological crisis.

"As we look ahead we must again grow into the role that is needed of a modern parliament."

The LibDems’ Tavish Scott, who this week announced he will resign as Shetland MSP in July after 20 years, said it had been an honour and privilege to serve at Holyrood.

He said: "Scotland is an immeasurably stronger place today. Let this parliament flourish and those who serve next enjoy the spirit of discussion, the argument and yes, the downright row.

"It's been my honour to serve the people of Shetland and to play a part in the evolution of Scotland's democracy."

A poem written for the day, by Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, was performed by the poet herself, as well as delivered partly in Gaelic, partly in sign-language and sung by singer and actress Suzanne Bonnar.