‘The connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep,’ says the Duke of Cambridge
The Duke of Cambridge said he was at the Queen’s Balmoral home when news of his mother, Princess Diana’s death broke.
He spoke of how he found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors in the “dark days of grief” that followed, but added that Scotland was also where he met his future wife, Kate Middleton.
William was appointed by the Queen as Lord High Commissioner to the assembly, which is taking part in “blended form” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Only a small number of people attended the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh on Saturday, while others joined in to watch online.
In his speech, William said: “Scotland is a source of some of my happiest memories but also my saddest.
“I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died. Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning and in the dark days of grief that followed I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors.
“As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep.
“Alongside this painful memory is one of great joy because it was here in Scotland 20 years ago this year that I first met Catherine.
“Needless to say the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart.
“George, Charlotte and Louis already know how dear Scotland is to both of us and they are starting to build their own happy memories here too.”
He reminisced about his days at the University of St Andrews in Fife, describing the four years he spent studying there as “very happy and formative”.
He said the “town and the students left me alone to get on with student life, allowing me to share their freedoms – and their pubs”.
“Scotland is incredibly important to me and will always have a special place in my heart,” added William.
“I’ve been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy.
“As I grew up I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here and my father is never happier than in walking among the hills.
“My childhood was full of holidays having fun in the fresh air, swimming in lochs, family barbecues with my grandfather in command, and yes the odd midge.”
The assembly began with the installation of Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC as the next moderator of the general assembly. He succeeds Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair.
Lord Wallace was formerly a deputy first minister of Scotland and Liberal Democrat MSP, as well as a member of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney.
The assembly will consider issues including proposals to reduce the number of presbyteries and the number of full-time ministry posts over the next few days, before it closes on Thursday afternoon.
William began his week-long visit to Scotland on his own on Friday and will be joined by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, on Monday for the rest of the tour.