A royal welcome to The Kelpies

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen

Cheering crowds greeted Her Majesty the Queen as she visited The Kelpies.

Accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, the royal visitors were in the Falkirk area to officially open a new section of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

The Queen Elizabeth II Canal forms the eastern gateway and finally links Grangemouth and the River Carron in the east to Bowling in Dunbartonshire in the west.

After arriving by helicopter, the royal pair travelled from the sealock along the canal on the Wooden Spoon Seagull, a boat from the Seagull Trust charity’s fleet.

When the boat berthed at the Kelpies Pool, the Queen and Duke met Depute Provost Ann Ritchie, Falkirk Council director Rhona Geisler, Angus MacDonald MSP, John McNally MP and Chief Superintendent Thom McLoughlin.

They were then introduced to Kelpies sculptor Andy Scott by Andrew Thin, chairman of Scottish Canals, and Steve Dunlop, the chief executive.

After speaking about his work, Mr Scott introduced horses, Spencer and Harry, representing the Clydesdales. The Kelpies were modelled on.

The royal couple were then invited inside the ‘head down’ Kelpie to view the complexity and engineering work involved in their construction.

After making the short journey to the Helix visitors centre, the Queen and Duke met more staff and volunteers, before The Queen was presented with a posy of flowers and a gift by four-year-old twins Luke and Sam Mitchell, and a small sculpture by Taylor Brown (13).

The flag-waving crowd were then given a final wave as the royals departed the Helix to make the short trip to Stirling Castle for the next engagement during the Scottish week stay.

The Scottish Canals chairman said: “We are honoured that Her Majesty The Queen was able to join us to celebrate the naming of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal in her honour. The Helix was alive with activity, from the water to the banks and beyond, and it

really showed how the local community has taken the incredible Kelpies and the canal over which they stand into their hearts.
“More than 15 years ago, Her Majesty joined us to celebrate the reopening of Scotland’s canals as part of the Millennium Link. Today was a fitting way to mark the completion of that project and the ongoing renaissance of our nation’s incredible waterways.”