The Senedd was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall on 1 March 2006 in the presence of Assembly Members (AMs), Members of Parliament and parliamentarians and representatives from the United Kingdom, Europe and the Commonwealth.
March 1st is St David’s Day – the day that the people of Wales home and abroad commemorate their patron saint and it was therefore fitting that the new, purpose –built home of the National Assembly should be opened on this day. The event was the culmination of a project that had begun some years earlier.
The celebrations began with three processions:
- Interfaith Council Representatives from Wales;
- Members of the Judiciary; and
- Speakers and Presiding Officers of Commonwealth and European Parliaments and Assemblies.
On the Plinth
On arrival at the Senedd, The Queen and the other members of The Royal Family were presented to the Presiding Officer The Rt.Hon. The Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas PC AM and to the First Minister, The Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan PC AM who accompanied the principal guests to the steps of the plinth for the Royal Salute by soldiers from the Welsh Guards and the Royal Welsh Regiment.
This was followed by ‘God Save the Queen’, played by The Prince of Wales’s Divisional Bands, (Lucknow and Clive). A Twenty One Gun Salute was performed by HMS Westminister berthed alongside the Senedd at Britannia Quay with 39 Regiment and 104 Regiment (Volunteer) Royal Artillery on the waterfront beside the Norwegian Church.
An aerial component to the salute was provided by a fly-past over the Senedd by four Hawk jets from 208 Squadron RAF from Valley on Anglesey. Before entering the Senedd the leaders of the opposition parties, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Mr Nicholas Bourne AM and, Mr Michael German AM, the Permanent Secretary, Sir Jon Shortridge and the Clerk to the Assembly Mr Paul Silk were presented to Her Majesty The Queen and the other members of The Royal Family.
In the Neuadd
Guests seated in the Neuadd included:
- elected representatives from the 22 local authorities in Wales;
- young people from different parts of Wales nominated by their Local Education Authorities;
- personnel who had worked on the Senedd project;
- representatives of Wales’ faith communities.
Her Majesty was invited to unveil the slate plaque and to declare the Senedd open. The plaque, engraved by Mr Ieuan Rees, and now hangs on the wall behind the reception desk in the Neuadd.
Immediately after The Queen declared the building official open, the Fanfare Celebration and Hymn, specially composed by Dr Richard Elfyn Jones, was performed by the National Youth Symphonic Brass Wales, conducted by Mr James Watson. Ms Gwyneth Lewis, the national Poet of Wales then recited her poem ‘Horizon with People’, which was specially commissioned by the National Assembly and composed for the occasion by Ms Lewis.
A copy of the poem in calligraphy, the work of Mrs Hilary Hopgood, was presented to The Queen in a Gregynog leather folder. The Royal procession then moved downstairs from the Neuadd to the Cwrt and into the Siambr.
In the Siambr
Assembly Members were already in their seats in the Siambr and rose to their feet on the entrance of Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, accompanied by the Presiding Officer, the First Minister, and the Deputy Presiding Officer. The Presiding Officer, The Rt Hon the lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas PC AM welcomed The Queen and other guests and invited Her Majesty to address the Assembly. The Queen’s Address was followed by an address by Mrs Sylvia Heal MP, First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, on behalf of the Rt. Hon Michael J Martin MP, Speaker of the House of Commons who was indisposed. Mrs Heal is a native of North Wales and included some words of greeting and good wishes to the National Assembly in Welsh.
The New South Wales Parliament presented a Mace to the National Assembly for Wales in recognition of the historical connection between these two parts of the world. The Mace was carried into the Siambr by Ms Ronda Miller, Serjeant-at-Arms of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, presented to The Queen, and then accepted on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales by Ms Dianne Bevan, the Deputy Clerk. The presentation was followed by addresses by the following:
- The Hon John Price, MP, Deputy Speaker of the legislative Assembly of New South Wales;
- The Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales; and
- The Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas PC AM. Presiding Officer, of the National Assembly.
The Presiding Officer presented Her Majesty the Queen with the first strike in gold of the £5 coin made by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, which was later circulated to celebrate Her Majesty’s 80th birthday.
In the Oriel
Design and construction teams and National Assembly staff involved in the building and development of the Senedd and representatives of young people and older people in Wales congregated in the Oriel and were presented to Members of the Royal Family. The Finance Minister, Sue Essex, who was responsible for the Senedd project in its later stages and Mr Richard Wilson, the National Assembly’s project manager explained to The Queen how the project developed.
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall were presented with flowers by two young people on leaving the Oriel and before descending the stairs to the Neuadd. All the Members of the Royal Family commemorated their visit with their signatures. ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’, the Welsh National Anthem, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2006, was played by the National Youth Symphonic Brass Wales before the Principal Guests departed to join Assembly Members and others for luncheon at the St.David’s Hotel and Spa.
The lunch was prepared by Mr George Fuchs, Executive Chef at the St David’s who had designed the menu in consultation with Mr Graham Tinsley MBE, Team Manager, Welsh National Culinary Team, of which HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron.
In the afternoon members of the public were invited to the Senedd where entertainment was provided by the following organisations:
- Touch Trust
- Ty Cerdd
In the evening Assembly Members and guests attended a performance of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ by the Welsh National Opera at the Wales Millenium Centre with Bryn Terfel in the lead part. This followed a pre-opera reception attended by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the Senedd during which The Prince addressed the guests. Jemima Phillips, Harpist to the Prince of Wales entertained the guests. After the opera, guests returned to the Senedd for a post-opera supper, which was the final part of the day’s celebrations.