Newly elected MSPs led by Nicola Sturgeon declared their “loyalty to the Scottish people” before taking an allegiance to the Queen as they were sworn in at Holyrood yesterday.
The First Minister, along with Greens leader Patrick Harvie and socialist MSPs in the Labour ranks went off script during their oath-taking ceremony in Parliament to declare the “sovereignty of the people.”
The move came under fire from Royalists and campaign groups yesterday.
It came as the Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh was elected as Holyrood’s new Presiding Officer with a pledge to bring about reform. Nationalist MSPs Linda Fabiani and Christine Grahame will be his deputies.
The SNP leader was the first of the new intake of MSPs to take her affirmation in Parliament which involves a statement of allegiance to the Queen.
But she went off script to made a short statement in advance setting out that the Scottish people are “sovereign”, as her predecessor Alex Salmond did in these swearing-in ceremonies.
“The Scottish National Party pledges loyalty to the people of Scotland in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the Scottish people,” Ms Sturgeon said.
The First Minister then choose to take an affirmation, instead of a religious oath.
“I Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Her Heirs and Successors, according to Law,” she said.
SNP MSPs wore the “white rose of Scotland” during the ceremony. The rose was the subject of the Hugh MacDiarmid poem The Little White Rose, and has been worn by SNP members as they are sworn in at Holyrood since 1999.
Ms Sturgeon was followed by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, then Kezia Dugdale of Labour.
Patrick Harvie of the independence supporting Greens also went off script before his affirmation.
“On behalf of the Green party and our MSPs I would like to re-affirm that our priority will always be to serve the people of Scotland who are sovereign and that we support the principle of an elected head of state,” he said.
Labour MSPs Neil Findlay and Elaine Smith also stated that the Scottish people should be “citizens not subjects” before being sworn in.
“I hold firmly that my allegiance should first and foremost be to them,” both MSPs stated.
But Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, chairman of the British Monarchist Foundation, criticised the MSPs behaviour last night.
“It is not only a slap in the face for almost 65 years of service but at her 90th birthday to be doing this really shows the rest of the Union that Scotland really doesn’t have any sort of respect for Her Majesty, for her position or the undying devoted service she has given.
“It is unfortunate because south of the Border when we see things like this we wonder, ‘Well does Scotland really appreciate the Queen?’”