The Queen uses walking stick again as she visit Wales for first time in five years

The Queen has been pictured using a walking stick in public for the opening of the Welsh parliament, as she praised the efforts of people during the pandemic, including key workers and volunteers.

This was the second time this week that the 95-year-old monarch has been seen with it, after also using it on Tuesday at a Westminster Abbey service in London.

On Thursday, she was handed the walking stick by an aide as she got out of her car outside the parliament in Cardiff.

Her Majesty was in Wales for the first time in five years, as she formally opened the sixth session of the Senedd, following the election in May.

She was joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the event.

In her speech, the Queen said a “debt of gratitude” is owed to the Welsh people, including essential workers.

Speaking in the Senedd chamber, she said: “I have spoken before about how recent times have, in many ways, brought us closer together.

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have risen so magnificently to the challenges of the last 18 months, from key workers to volunteers, who have done so much to serve their communities.

“They are shining examples of the spirit for which the Welsh people are so renowned, a spirit which I have personally encountered so many times.”

She took a lift to a lobby area of the parliament building where she met dignitaries before attending the opening.

The event was due to take place shortly after the election, but was delayed because of the pandemic.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the sixth session will be a period for the people of Wales to “look to the future”, and he wanted to meet the challenges ahead by promoting “prosperity, equality and well-being for everyone in Wales”.

He also praised the efforts of all those who helped tackle the pandemic.

He said: “We have seen the best of Wales in our health and care system, the shop workers, our teachers, all those public service workers, the businesses and volunteers, whose commitment, dedication and sheer hard work has helped to keep Wales open during this most difficult of times.

“As we look beyond the pandemic, we recognise that we still have many challenges ahead.

“To meet them we will use all of our powers to promote prosperity, equality and well-being for everyone in Wales. And to turn ourselves to that other great crisis of our times, a crisis in climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”

Mr Drakeford told Sky News that the Queen opening the new session “marks the significance of the parliament” in the nation.

He said: “Decisions are made in four different parliaments and I know the Queen has always taken very seriously the job that she does in marking that.

“As I say, she’s never missed an opening of a new Senedd term and despite the circumstances, and her age, she will be making that effort again today.”

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