Motion of Condolence

– in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party 12:00 pm, 13th February 2002

This meeting of the Parliament has been convened to consider motion S1M-2728, a motion of condolence, in the name of Jack McConnell, on the death of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret.

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

It is with great sadness that we convey our sincere condolences to members of the royal family on the death of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. In particular, we express our sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen on the loss of her younger sister; to Her Majesty the Queen Mother on the loss of her beloved daughter; and to Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto on the tragic loss of their mother. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time and their grief is shared by members of the Parliament and by people across Scotland.

In offering our condolences and sympathy to her family, we also pay tribute to Princess Margaret's contribution to public life in Scotland and offer our gratitude for her particular commitment to working with children and young people.

She remained devoted to the Guide Association, of which she was president, and with which she had a close involvement for over 60 years. She was a patron of Barnardos and its president between 1948 and 1984. One of her earliest appointments in public life was as a patron of the Scottish Children's League; she became its president in 1966. She continued her support for the organisation and became president of the current body, Children 1st. Through her fundraising support, including that for the annual "touch of tartan" ball in Aberdeen, she helped to bring additional resources for the organisation's important work. That is a record of commitment to and support for our children and young people that stretches over a lifetime and that leaves a valuable and lasting legacy.

The princess was also a great supporter of the arts. She was a patron of Scottish Ballet from 1984 and was involved with the Scottish Community Drama Association, among other organisations. Alongside that, she gave her time and energy to health and medical charities: as a patron of the Terence Higgins Trust and Lighthouse, of the Royal College of Nursing, of the Heart Disease and Diabetes Research Trust and of the Princess Margaret Rose hospital here in Edinburgh.

There are many other organisations that I could add to that list, which benefited from and welcomed her support. Through them all, we can see a thread of constant interest and concern in the princess's using her position and efforts to help others and to promote work that is dear to the hearts of people in Scotland and to our values. The affection that we have for her comes not simply from her Scottish heritage, but from that work and lifetime commitment.

She was born at Glamis castle, spent much of her childhood on Deeside and, throughout her life, took a keen interest in Scottish affairs, visiting Scotland many times each year.

Princess Margaret was more than a public figure. She was also a loving mother and grandmother, who was proud of her children and never happier than when surrounded by her family. It is that family who will mourn her most, so it is to them that the people of Scotland send our sympathies. We do so with sadness, but also with thanks for the support and commitment that she offered over the years to many people and organisations and for the contribution that her life made to improving the lives of so many others.

I move,

That the Parliament wishes to express its deep regret and sadness at the death of HRH The Princess Margaret and to convey its sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family in their sad bereavement.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party 12:03 pm, 13th February 2002

On behalf of the Scottish National Party, I associate myself with the motion moved by the First Minister and extend our sympathy to the royal family on the death of Princess Margaret.

The death of any individual brings enormous sadness for those who are left to mourn. In losing their mother, the princess's children will be enduring that sadness and we think of them today. No parent expects to lose a child, and that pain is probably the hardest to bear. We offer the Queen Mother our support in the pain that she must be suffering.

Many tributes have been paid to the princess since her death on Saturday. I was most struck by the words of the Prince of Wales, who said:

"She loved life and lived it to the full, and for that we will always remember her."

Living life to the full is much to be admired. It imprints us indelibly in the affections and memories of our friends.

Princess Margaret was born in 1930 in Glamis castle, in the constituency that I have the privilege of representing, and her birth was registered at the post office in Glamis. Each summer in her early years, Princess Margaret would visit Glamis and enjoy the Angus countryside. Her visits were interrupted by the onset of war, but they resumed regularly afterwards. The area was very precious to her, so precious that she requested that a special service be held in the chapel at the castle on the day of her funeral. A book of condolence has been opened at Glamis, and yesterday I spoke to Mary, Countess of Strathmore, who told me that many local people and visitors had taken the opportunity to sign the book.

Princess Margaret's interest in Scotland spread far beyond the confines of the county of Angus. For many years she was president of Children 1st, formerly the Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Until recent years she was a very active president, helping to raise funds for the vital work that Children 1st carries out in Scotland on behalf of the people of Scotland. That is just one of the causes for which she campaigned throughout her life, and for which she will be fondly remembered.

I extend my condolences to the Queen and to the royal family, and I associate my party with the motion.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative 12:06 pm, 13th February 2002

I associate the Scottish Conservative members of the Parliament, and the Scottish Conservative party as a whole, with the motion of condolence following the death of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

It is fitting that the motion should be lodged in the first Scottish Parliament for almost 300 years, because—as the First Minister and Mr Swinney noted—Princess Margaret's birth at Glamis was the first royal birth in Scotland since the 17th century.

Throughout her life Princess Margaret sustained and nurtured her links with Scotland. Those of us who live in the city of Edinburgh think of her association with the Princess Margaret Rose orthopaedic hospital. Tribute has also been paid to her for her support for the arts and patronage of Scottish Ballet.

It is particularly poignant that Princess Margaret's death should fall in the year of the Queen's golden jubilee and in the very week that marked the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. This must be a particularly difficult week for the Queen Mother, as pride in the accomplishments of her elder daughter is mixed with the sadness of the recollection of the loss of a husband—a sense of loss now heightened by the death of her younger daughter. As Mr Swinney pointed out, the death of a child is a distressing affront to the natural cycle of life, irrespective of the age of the parent.

Today we acknowledge and pay tribute to Princess Margaret for the service that she rendered our country and the unswerving support that she has given to Her Majesty throughout her reign, both publicly and privately, as a member of the royal family. Like the First Minister and Mr Swinney, we recognise not only her patronage of and commitment to the arts, but her important contribution to the work of children's charities in Scotland and in Britain.

She combined that work and service with being a devoted mother. The tributes paid to her show the enormous affection and regard in which she was held, both within the royal family and in the wider world. As we meet this afternoon, our sympathies are with her son, David, Lord Linley, with her daughter Lady Chatto, with the Queen, with the Queen Mother and with all other members of the royal family.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace Liberal Democrat 12:08 pm, 13th February 2002

On behalf of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, I join the other party leaders in supporting the motion moved by the First Minister, in paying tribute to Princess Margaret and in expressing condolences to her family at this sad time of bereavement.

Much has been said regarding the princess's birth at Glamis—the first royal birth in Scotland since the 17th century. Princess Margaret's birth was also noteworthy for being the last royal birth at which the Home Secretary was required to be present.

Princess Margaret had an affinity with the land of her birth. She came here not only on official duties, but on private visits, often to undertake engagements at local charitable events. She was the colonel-in-chief of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, known as Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment. I recall listening to her "Desert Island Discs" broadcast, in which her record selection included "Scotland the Brave". She chose that tune especially because of the positive thoughts and memories that it evoked.

Hers was a royal life, and so a life committed to public duty. She was a lady with a lively intellect who supported and encouraged the arts, not least Scottish Ballet and the Royal Ballet. We have already heard about the many charitable organisations to which she devoted so much time and energy. It is proper that we highlight the work that she did to help children, particularly vulnerable children and abused young people. It is striking that in recent days those involved in the charities with which the princess was associated have spoken warmly of her interest and encouragement.

Princess Margaret was a royal princess, but she was also a mother, grandmother, sister and daughter. For that reason, we hold the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret's children—Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto—in our thoughts and prayers and extend to them our deepest sympathy. We remember with gratitude a life that reflected a commitment to the service of others and to duty nobly fulfilled.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

I am sure that all members will want to agree to the motion.

Motion agreed to.

Meeting suspended until 13:00.

On resuming—