Prince Philip: Scottish Parliament recalled to remember duke

image captionMSPs observed a minute's silence before paying tribute to Prince Philip

Scotland's political leaders have paid tribute to Prince Philip after Holyrood was recalled in a special session.

MSPs held a minute's silence in remembrance of the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday aged 99.

Campaigning for the Holyrood election on 6 May was suspended, but will resume in full on Tuesday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the duke had "led a life of distinction", offering the "deepest sympathies" of the parliament to the Queen.

Flags outside Holyrood have been flying at half-mast as a mark of respect, while a special session to pay tribute is also being held in the House of Commons.

Scotland's parties were approaching the end of the second full week of campaigning ahead of the election, with several scheduled to launch their manifestos.

However, after campaigns were put on hold, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh decided to recall MSPs to pay tribute to the duke.

This was possible because the parliament was not dissolved for the election as usual, but put into recess so that members could be recalled in the event of any Covid-19 emergency.

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image captionFlags have been at half-mast at the Scottish Parliament building

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that she had witnesses the strength of the "true partnership" between the Queen and Prince Philip while visiting them at Balmoral, and said she "always enjoyed" her conversations with the duke.

She said: "I was struck by how different he was in private to the way he was sometimes characterised in public.

"He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent. He was also a serious bookworm, which I am too, so talking about the books we were reading was often for me a real highlight of our conversations."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson added: "It was clear that not only was he a man of huge practical ability - a decorated and talented naval officer, a qualified pilot, a natural sailor and horseman - he also had interests and passions that he wanted to use his position to drive forward.

"He focused on engineering, research, youth, the outdoors and conservation.

"In a life that could so easily have been one shallow wave, a ribbon cut, a couple of public remarks before on to the next engagement, he demonstrated huge commitment to the organisations that he championed."

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image captionPresiding Officer Ken Macintosh said Prince Philip had attended every royal occasion at Holyrood before retiring

This is the sixth time Holyrood has been recalled in its short history but the first occasion MSPs have been brought back during an election campaign.

That is only possible because of special pandemic arrangements that mean parliament has not been formally stood down in the usual way and MSPs continue in their roles until 5 May.

There were similar tributes from Scottish party leaders when the Queen Mother died in 2002.

The Duke of Edinburgh was a regular visitor to Holyrood, attending the royal openings of each session with the Queen whose royal palace is next door to parliament.

Election campaigning has been suspended since Friday ahead of an important week in which postal voting begins. Labour has put back its manifesto launch by a week.

There was a more prolonged interruption to campaigning in the devolution referendum that set up the Scottish Parliament in 1997 following the death of Princess Diana.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Prince Philip was an "extraordinary public servant", paying particular tribute to the impact of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

He added: "This is hard for anyone, no matter how many years have been shared - the Queen has lost her beloved husband after spending more than 70 years together.

"I can't even begin to imagine how that must feel, and my thoughts and prayers are with her majesty."

Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said his party had considered whether to take part in the event, given they want to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state.

However, he said "respect and compassion" were due in times of loss, offering his "sincere condolences" to the duke's family.

And Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said Prince Philip had "left lasting impressions with so many", with many "fun and memorable" memories.

He added: "For so many he has been part of a family that has provided comfort and stability in what can be a turbulent and intimidating world."