THIS is a time for reflecting on the long life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

I hope that those in East Lothian who feel her loss personally will value the First Minister’s remarks about the Queen’s special love for her home at Balmoral. Her Majesty’s destiny meant she would end her days at home here in Scotland.

As Princess Elizabeth, her 21st birthday vow declared to all the peoples of her realms “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”. It was an exceptional promise, fulfilled by an exceptional individual; there is agreement across all sectors of society and political parties that the Queen’s lifelong steadfastness and her unparalleled devotion to the service of others command the utmost respect.

The Queen’s unwavering faith-based commitment earned her the world’s admiration; the grace with which she met her obligations won her also a depth of affection that few elected heads of state can ever hope to match. Her skill as a diplomat, particularly on display as she repaired centuries of hurt in the Irish Republic, will long be remembered.

A further achievement of the Queen’s long reign is her dedication to the Commonwealth that has contributed to the rich diversity of our society, reflected in both Scotland’s Parliament and at Westminster. Her reign has witnessed both progressive social changes carrying communities with them alongside more challenging and unsettling developments.

As a constitutional monarch, the Queen stood outside party politics, supporting equally each Prime Minister, and since the 1990s each First Minister, with her own wisdom. By providing continuity, the constitutional monarchy has maintained the stable democracy which over seven decades has enabled individuals, communities and institutions to vote for the kind of society they want.

During the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, few foresaw that alongside war in Europe, the close of the Queen’s reign would coincide with economic turmoil and a change of Prime Minister. In these uncertain times, the pageantry proclaiming a new King was a reminder that Scotland’s historic place in the United Kingdom underpins our contemporary Parliament whose growing stature the Queen herself did so much to encourage. Holyrood will surely build on that legacy with King Charles III.