GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth praised the spirit of the Welsh people on Thursday for rising to the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
The Queen, 95, visited Cardiff to open the latest session of the Senedd, or Welsh Parliament. After arriving to a 21-gun salute, she expressed her "pleasure" that Prince William and Kate Middleton and her son Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall had lived in the country.
Wearing a pink Stewart Parvin coat adorned with a Welsh daffodil brooch (signifying the national flower of Wales) and a hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan, the Queen also spoke of the difficult days of the pandemic. For the second time in three days, she used a cane for support.
"Recent times have, in many ways, brought us closer together," she said. "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."
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles
The Queen said it was a "source of pleasure" that both Charles and Camilla, together with William and Kate — who lived in Anglesey, north Wales when they were first married — have "have had homes in Wales, and experienced its very special sense of community."
"The Welsh people have much to be proud of and over the next five years," she said. "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."
The visit came as she continued her active week, including a service for the Royal British Legion with her daughter Princess Anne and a series of audiences back at Buckingham Palace.
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall
The Queen's arrival in the city on the royal train was heralded with the salute on the bayside below the Welsh Parliament.
Walking through the hallway of the stunning Parliament building, she was also treated to a moving performance of "Ar Lan y Môr" by the youth group of the Welsh National Opera.
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall
"This parliament is now recognized in law as Senedd Cymru, or the Welsh Parliament," the Queen said in her address. "The name reflects this institution's evolution over its 22 years into one with law-making powers over a wide range of areas that are central to Welsh life, and the ability to vary taxes. It demonstrates your status as a national parliament, working on behalf of the people of Wales."
After the ceremony, Queen met some of the "COVID champions" who have served their communities during the last 18 months.
"The Queen was on top form," Senedd presiding officer Elin Jones said. "She was very kind with her time meeting youth parliamentarians, meeting members of the Senedd and in meeting the guests here today. She was very generous with her time and very interested in what people had to say."
Jones added, "She was particularly interested to hear the experiences of people during COVID and how they helped in their various communities, where the young farmers were helping for example."
After the Queen left, Charles and Camilla spent some more time meeting local dignitaries and those who have worked throughout the pandemic.