Queen praises ‘indomitable spirit’ of the people of Wales on first visit to country for five years

The Queen today paid tribute to the "indomitable spirit" of the people of Wales as she opened Senedd in Cardiff on her first visit to the country in five years.

Dressed head to toe in pink and again carrying a walking stick, Her Majesty, 95, arrived in the city accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, accompanied by a 21-gun salute.

In a short speech as she officially opened the sixth term of the Senedd, the Queen said it was “a source of pleasure” that both Prince Charles and Camilla as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had homes in Wales, allowing them to “experience its very special sense of community.”

The Prince of Wales, wearing a face mask, arrives for the opening ceremony of the Senedd in Cardiff

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

The Queen also commended the Welsh for their “innovation”, noting that the Senedd was the first of the UK’s legislatures to hold a formal virtual meeting. 

The monarch used the telescopic walking stick on Tuesday, the first time she had been seen with it in public in 17 years, and marking  one of her first concessions to comfort in older age.

It is the same as the stick she used in 2004, after an operation to remove torn cartilage from her right knee, but appeared noticeably more battered, raising the possibility that it has been used in private since then.

Addressing the Senedd’s opening ceremony, Her Majesty said:  “I have spoken before about how recent times have, in many ways, brought us closer together. 

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have risen so magnificently to the challenges of the last 18 months – from key workers to volunteers, who have done so much to serve their communities. They are shining examples of the spirit for which the Welsh people are so renowned, a spirit which I have personally encountered so many times.

“The fact that all parties showed a determination that you should continue to meet is commendable, and testament to your commitment to scrutinise the Government, on behalf of the people of Wales.”

The Queen added: “The Welsh people have much to be proud of and over the next five years, I am sure you will continue to be inspired by their indomitable spirit, as you represent the interests of Wales and its people, make laws for Wales, and hold the Welsh Government to account.”

She signed off her speech in Welsh with "diolch o galon", which roughly translates as "thank you from the bottom of my heart".

The service will also include a poetry reading by Eleri Griffiths and Oliver Edwards Davies of the Welsh Youth Parliament.

They will read Ein Llais, written by children from 24 primary schools about their hopes for the future.

A family from Afghanistan, which has started a new life in Wales after fleeing the Taliban, is later expected to meet Prince Charles.

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