The Queen’s life story leaves a big mark on history - Lorna Slater

When Queen Elizabeth II took the throne she did so in a country that was very different. Scotland and the UK have changed so much over the last 70 years and so has the world around us.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

For many she was regarded as a constant and a source of stability in our national life and story. She met 15 Prime Ministers and hundreds of world leaders, and witnessed so many major historical events.

Since she first opened the Scottish Parliament in 1999, she has been a frequent visitor to Holyrood. I am among many here who hold memories of meeting her during her visits to the Chamber.

Her passing has seen politicians from across our political spectrum coming together to share condolences. But, at heart, it was also in its own way a very private and personal matter. She was a very public figure, but she was also a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother, and she leaves many who are mourning.

All of us have shared in the pain of losing a loved one at some time in our lives. We can all recognise the terrible toll it can have and the mixture of emotions that can come from balancing our joyful memories with a feeling of finality and loss.

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Anyone born at the time of the Queen’s Coronation would have been delivered into a very different era.

The NHS was in its infancy and we were yet to see the expansion of higher education. The Scottish Parliament itself was almost 50 years away.

It was a time when we still had the death penalty and, that same year, the mathmatician and father of computer science, Alan Turing was among those who were prosecuted and locked up for their sexuality.

There are still important changes to be won, but, particularly when it comes to our multiculturalism and diversity and the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people, the last 70 years have been transformative.

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The 70 years ahead will see all sorts of change. I hope that the progress we have seen on human rights continues and that the society we build is one of peace, prosperity and opportunity for those that follow us.

Our planet will change and so will our climate. Every fraction of a degree will matter. What will be the environmental legacy that we leave for people 70 years from now?

It should be the goal of every generation to leave things better than we found them. Only through that commitment and that stewardship can we build a sustainable future and ensure a better tomorrow.

Last year, in a video for the COP climate conference in Glasgow, the Queen spoke for many when she stressed that “the time for words has now moved to the time for action.”

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Rows of flowers and tributes have been left outside Balmoral and Holyrood Palace as a mark of respect. The people leaving them come from all backgrounds and experiences.

Some are pensioners who remember the day she took the throne, and others are children who have never known a country without her.

It is definitely the end of an era, but our next chapter lies unwritten. However, for the moment at least, regardless of our views on the future we want, we can pause to reflect on a unique life story which leaves a big mark on history.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity