THE Queen has officially opened the “breathtaking” new Queensferry Crossing, hailing the construction of the bridge as an “extraordinary achievement”.
She returned to the Firth of Forth to formally open the new structure 53 years after she opened the neighbouring Forth Road Bridge (FRB).
As well as being a “breathtaking sight”, she said the new bridge would be an “important link” between the Lothians and Fife.
It sits alongside the FRB and the Forth Bridge, with the Queen stating: “The three magnificent structures we see here span three centuries, are all feats of modern engineering and a tribute to the vision and remarkable skill of those who designed and built them.”
The monarch, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, earlier cut a ribbon to signify the formal opening of the new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth.
Hundreds of people, mainly schoolchildren, cheered as the Queen – who is to become a grandmother again after it was announced the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her third child – cut the ribbon.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 4, 2017
It took place on the south side of the bridge after the royal couple met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, constructors’ representatives and local officials.
The Queen – wearing a Stuart Parvin sky blue cashmere coat with a matching hat by Angela Kelly, a printed paisley dress and a diamond thistle brooch – was welcomed on to the new crossing by an honour guard of the Royal Company of Archers and the national anthem from the Royal Regiment of Scotland band.
She was greeted by cheering crowds of children from schools from both sides of the bridge waving saltire flags and was given a floral posy by Elizabeth Martin, grand-daughter of crossing project director Michael Martin.
The Queen was then driven to the north side, where she made a short speech and unveiled a plaque.
— The Sunday Post (@Sunday_Post) September 4, 2017
The event to unveil the £1.35 billion crossing after six years of construction work is taking place exactly 53 years on from the day when the monarch opened the neighbouring Forth Road Bridge.
Ms Sturgeon also addressed the crowd, saying the creation of the bridge was an “outstanding achievement” as she thanked those involved in the project.
She told them: “The nation’s heart is bursting with pride at what you have achieved.”
The Red Arrows marked the occasion with a flypast while a flotilla of boats travelled under the bridge.
— Red Arrows (@rafredarrows) September 4, 2017
The bridge was also blessed by Church of Scotland Moderator The Right Rev Dr Derek Browning.
Philip’s attendance at the event sees him making his first official appearance alongside the Queen since retiring from solo royal engagements last month.
He bid farewell to his own royal jobs at Buckingham Palace at the start of August but officials stressed he may still accompany the monarch at her events from time to time.
The ceremony was the high point in a week of events marking the opening of the bridge more than a decade after plans for the feat of civil engineering were drawn up.
On Monday of last week, the crossing was illuminated by a night-time light show to reflect the symbolic handover of the bridge from contractors to the Scottish Government.
The first cars drove over the structure in the early hours of Wednesday, with many of the motorists sounding their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over it.
The bridge then closed again on Friday to allow 50,000 people the opportunity to take part in a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to walk over the bridge during the weekend, ahead of the royal opening event.
It will reopen to traffic on Thursday.
The 1.7-mile Queensferry Crossing – the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world – is the third structure connecting the Lothians and Fife, and sits slightly to the west of the Forth road and rail bridges.
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