Humza Yousaf’s Scottish Green coalition partners have been condemned over their “churlish” refusal to pay tribute to the late Elizabeth II in a commemoration marking the first anniversary of her death.
The Greens were the only one of Holyrood’s five political parties to reject an invitation from Alison Johnstone, the parliament’s presiding officer, to speak in a session dedicated to Britain’s longest serving monarch.
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green co-leader and a government minister, said he had not felt “obligated” to make a contribution and he had left the speeches to those “who felt it was appropriate”.
Mr Harvie and Lorna Slater, the other co-leader and another Scottish Government minister, said they did not want to make political statements.
In June last year the Scottish Greens failed to join a Holyrood debate commemorating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and its MSPs did not take part in the extended tributes following her death.
A year ago Mr Harvie delivered a highly politicised speech at Holyrood in the presence of a grieving King Charles, saying that his mother’s death was “a reminder that the reality of human life is not rooted in status, or in title”.
The Queen died at Balmoral on September 8 last year at the age of 96, sparking 11 days of mourning that saw tens of thousands of Scots line the streets as her coffin was transported to St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
First Minister Humza Yousaf, a self-confessed republican, led the tributes commemorating the first anniversary, noting that the late Queen’s “deep fondness for Scotland was well known.”
He said: “One year since the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth does present a moment for reflection on a long and dedicated life of public service.”
Mr Yousaf added: “It is here that Queen Elizabeth chose to spend her most private family moments each summer and it is within the halls and gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse that Her Majesty welcomes thousands of community leaders, volunteers, artists, activists, faith leaders and essential key workers in recognition of their service to Scotland.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Harvie confirmed all parties had been offered a chance to speak, but it “didn’t seem strictly necessary” on this occasion for him to do so.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I feel it was a moment for those who felt it was appropriate...I don’t think it was something we felt obligated to do in that moment.”
Ms Slater said: “It was a moment for MSPs to share their personal thoughts and it wasn’t really the appropriate moment for any sort of political statement.”
But Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Constitution Secretary, said: “This is just the sort of churlish stunt we’ve come to expect from the extremist Scottish Greens.
“While their republican views are well known, the majority of Scots will be appalled that the Greens couldn’t find it within themselves to pay tribute to Her Late Majesty one year on from her passing.”