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has met as her week-long trip to protect the Union continues today, and told the First Minister she was delighted to be back in Scotland for the first time since Prince Philip died. The women, both wearing light blue, held a socially distanced meeting at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Calligraphic paintings to celebrate opening this afternoon. The Queen received Ms Sturgeon just after midday, telling her 'it's lovely to have you back here' and that 'a year's gap is incredible' - a nod to her shielding at Windsor Castle with her late husband.

The First Minister smiled and replied: 'It's great to see you in person after so long. It's lovely to have you back here'. Her Majesty beckoned the SNP leader to take a seat and remarked on the gap between the chairs saying: 'It's still rather distanced I'm afraid'. Ms Sturgeon replied: 'Well that's very wise' and nodded when the monarch said: 'You must be quite used to that'. Her Majesty was animated during their chat, smiling and waving her arms as she listened to Ms Sturgeon before receiving Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alison Johnstone. The Queen is leading a Royal charm offensive to help persuade Scotland to resist the demands of nationalists for independence - with the Duke and playing a key supporting role. The trip, which is being discreetly backed by , Gifts for customers on Opening what to give day began yesterday with a trip to the Irn Bru factory in Cumbernauld with Prince William accompanying his grandmother and even trying some of 'Scotland's other national drink'. William was at a shipyard on the Clyde today and earlier this year gave a deeply personal speech in which he described the 'special place' that Scotland had in his heart, a country which he said held both some of his 'happiest memories' and his 'saddest'. It was at Balmoral where he learned of the death of his mother Diana, in 1997.

And it was at St Andrews where he met and fell in love with Kate Middleton. Ahead of the Queen's meeting with the First Minister, there is a background of tension dating back years since they first met seven years ago. Just last December furious Tories hit out at Ms Sturgeon's 'swipe' at Prince William and Kate Middleton over their whistle-stop trip to Scotland. The Scottish leader revealed at a daily briefing that the country's government had reminded the Palace of the strict Covid restrictions north of the border ahead of the couple's morale boosting tour.

Travelling across the border at the time was permitted for work purposes and royal sources said that was exactly What to give when opening a cafe the trip was, but Ms Sturgeon chose to warn them anyway.

    (Image: [[|]])   Queen Elizabeth II receives First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week
    (Image: [[|]])   The visit to Scotland, which is in its second day, marks the 95-year-old's first official visit north of the border since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh
          (Image: [[|]])  The Queen smiled as they sat down for discussions at the time where the First Minister is pushing for a second independence referendum
   (Image: [[|]])       (Image: [[|]])  The Queen appeared animated on camera and also listened intently to Ms Sturgeon, who has had a few bumpy moments with the Royal Family
    (Image: [[|]])   Queen Elizabeth II also received Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alison Johnstone today
    (Image: [[|]])   The Queen met with veterans during the opening of the the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders' Museum in Stirling today
    (Image: [[|]])   The monarch appeared in high spirits as she visited the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders' Museum during a visit in Stirling today

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