Queen opens £350m bank HQ

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THE Queen today performed the official opening of the Royal Bank of Scotland's £350 million new headquarters at Gogarburn.

Four RAF Tornados flew overhead at 11am as she declared the massive complex open, in front of First Minister Jack McConnell and the bank's group chairman Sir George Mathewson.

The Queen arrived at Gogarburn by helicopter with the Duke of Edinburgh just before 11am.

After the opening, the Royal couple were given an hour-long tour of the one-million-square-feet development before signing its visitors book.

They were shown the hand-written, original 1727 Royal Charter, which was drafted at the formation of the bank, and was approved by George I and granted by George II.

The Queen was also presented with the gift of a Maser, a symbolic silver and oak wooden bowl which will be housed at Holyrood Palace, by Sir George.

They were introduced to dignitaries including Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling, Edinburgh's Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, and Lothian and Borders Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins.

Mr McConnell hailed the new headquarters - which will house 3250 staff - as a symbol of Scotland's ambitions.

He said: "Building world-class Scottish companies that are competitive across global markets is a central part of our strategy for developing a modern and prosperous Scottish economy.

"The Royal Bank of Scotland is a perfect realisation of that ambition.

"Their commitment to a headquarters in Scotland confirms that we are creating the right business environment to attract and retain the headquarters of globally successful companies.

"The state-of-the-art offices here in Gogarburn are a fitting home for RBS and a real tribute to the quality and skills of their Scottish workforce."

Sir George said the new building was a testament to the achievements of the bank's staff, who helped it achieve record annual earnings for a Scottish company of 8.1 million last year.

He said: "It is perhaps inevitable on an occasion like this that much of the focus is on this building. However, I would not want that to obscure the fact that it is the people who work here and indeed our staff across the group, who have helped RBS achieve its success.

"They have made this group one of the world's top financial services companies and it is their achievements which in many ways necessitate buildings of this calibre.

"I am proud of what they have achieved and this campus gives them the quality working environment they deserve."