KING Charles has spoken of his mother’s deep and abiding love for Scotland as he addressed the Scottish Parliament for the first time as monarch.

The King told political leaders, MSPs and dignitaries that the Queen saw the country and its people as a “haven and a home”.

Responding to a motion of condolence, the sovereign also made a lightly veiled reference to the Union, saying he wanted to work “together” with Scotland and her people.

He quoted movingly from Robert Burns’s Epitaph on my own Friend, applying it to the Queen.

It followed speeches by Nicola Sturgeon and Green co-leader Patrick Harvie which did not include the words “God Save the King”, which all three Unionist party leaders used.

Earlier in the day, the King had flown to Edinburgh from London after addressing MPs and Lords in Westminster Hall, and from the airport there to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Queen’s coffin was brought to the Palace on Sunday following her death at her Scottish estate at Balmoral at the age of 96.

The King, his brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward and his sister Anne, walked slowly behind a cortege as it ascended the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral shortly after 230pm.

Around three hours later, the King visited the Parliament for the motion of condolence.

He said: “I know that the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland share with me a profound grief at the death of my beloved mother.

“Through all the years of her reign, the Queen, like so many generations of our family before her, found in the hills of this land and in the hearts of its people a haven and a home. 

“My mother felt, as I do, the greatest admiration for the Scottish people, for their magnificent achievements and for their indomitable spirit.

“And it was the greatest comfort for her to know in turn the true affection in which she was held. 

“The knowledge of that deep and abiding bond must be to us as solid as we mourn the end of a life of an incomparable service.

“If I might paraphrase the words of the great Robert Burns, my dear mother was a friend of man, a friend of truth, a friend of age and guide of youth, few hearts like hearts with virtue warmed, with heads with knowledge so informed.”

The King said he intended to follow his mother’s “inspiring example” in maintaining a constitutional monarchy, and said his son William would be as proud as he had to take on his former Scottish titles, including the Duke of Rothesay. 

Addressing the main Holyrood chamber alongside the Queen Consort, he concluded: “I take up my new duty with thankfulness for all that Scotland has given, with resolve to seek always the welfare of our country and its people, and with whole-hearted trust in your goodwill and good counsel, as we take forward that task together.”

The gathering included two former First Ministers - Alex Salmond and Lord Jack McConnell - and four past Presiding Officers - Lord Steel, SIr George Reid, Tricia Marwick and Ken Macintosh.

Also present were Scotland's most senior judge, the Lord President Lord Carloway, and the Scottish Government's law officers, the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC and Solictor General Ruth Charteris KC.

The SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes took a break form maternity leave to attend.