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'Exciting and fabulous': Queen opens University of Aberdeen's £57m library

Crowds gather to see Queen officially open university's Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Queen Elizabeth II officially opens Duncan Rice Library at University of Aberdeen

The Queen has officially opened a new library at the University of Aberdeen which houses more than a million books and collections of rare manuscripts.

A crowd of students and well-wishers lined the entrance to the Sir Duncan Rice Library to welcome the Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.

She met the building's architects, donors and members of staff before unveiling a plaque on the ground floor.

The £57m cube-shaped building, which opened to the public last year, was conceived by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen to mark the ice and light of the north and is the largest capital fundraising project undertaken by the university.

The library was named after a former principal of the institution, Sir Duncan Rice.

Staff and students were joined by hundreds of alumni and donors for a day of celebration which included tours of the library and an organ recital in the university chapel.

The Queen was presented with a bunch of flowers from the university's Cruickshank Botanic Gardens by two students from China, Sarah Keung Yinsum and Yang Lee.

Ms Keung Yinsum, 30, who arrived in Scotland a week ago to study a masters in environmental science, said: "It was just so exciting and fabulous to meet the Queen and the Duke.

"They were asking how long I had been here and wished me all the best.

"The Duke was also interested in me being from Hong Kong as he said he likes it there."

Mr Lee, 25, a subsea engineering student, said: "They were surprised when I told them I'd been here for five years, as I did my undergraduate course here and am now doing my masters. They were very friendly."

As they arrived, the Queen was given another bunch of flowers from a group of 15 children who attend Rocking Horse Nursery, which is for the children of students and staff at the university.

Beth Dawson, three, handed her the flowers while two-year-old Emmanuel Fynsk waved a Union flag and said shyly: "Hello Queen."

Nursery nurse Stephanie Kennedy said: "It was definitely worth bringing the children along, but none of them want to go back to nursery now they've met the Queen, they're all quite excited."

The Queen and the Duke were treated to a new choral piece by royal wedding composer Paul Mealor, Shine in Winter Light, before becoming the first two names in the library's guest book.

Mr Mealor, a professor of composition at the university, said: "The idea behind the piece is that this building shines out knowledge in the darkness.

"It's quite a short piece, but very powerful. The Queen and Philip said they really enjoyed it and were asking about all of the members of the choir.

"I've been working on it for quite a while — we had to make sure we got it right for the Queen."

The Queen and the Duke were given a short tour of the library by Siobhan Convery, head of special collections, and library director Chris Banks.

They were shown some of the university's treasures, including the Foundation Bull of 1495 which was granted by Pope Alexander VI.

The library spans seven floors, and the royal visitors were taken to the top landing to get the best overall view.

The Queen, wearing a pale green coat with mint green buttons and hat, smiled as she chatted to university officials and students.

Anne-Claire Deseilligny, 21, president of Aberdeen University Student Association, said: "It was a little bit nerve wracking. I was worried I would knock off her hat or sneeze on them, but I didn't so all is well.

"The 10 students that got to meet the Queen and the Duke today were picked at random, and I feel they give a good representation of all the students at the university just now.

"The Queen and the Duke both seemed very interested in everything we had to say, and were very enthusiastic about the new building.

"I really like the library, the students are using it much more than the place we had before."

Principal Ian Diamond said he was "hugely honoured" by the Queen's visit during her Diamond Jubilee year.

"Our library is not only a magnificent and inspirational building, it is a hugely important institutional and regional asset which will benefit students, scholars and our communities for decades to come, and a striking statement of the intellectual and cultural strength of our city and region."

The royal visitors were then taken to Marischal College in the city centre, originally opened in 1906 by King Edward VII.

The historic building has recently been transformed with the demolition of all but the A-listed granite facade.

It was reopened in June last year and is now the headquarters of more than 1300 city council workers, having been leased from the University of Aberdeen for 175 years.

The Queen and the Duke were given a tour of the building and viewed an exhibition including archive film footage, before unveiling a commemorative plaque.

The Queen and the Duke met staff from the city council who explained the renovation work carried out on the building.

Council leader Barney Crockett said: "It is a great honour to have the Queen visit Marischal College and a terrific event for the city.

"The interest that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh showed throughout their tour was inspirational to see.

"The first signature in the visitor book when Marischal College opened was from King Edward VII and the latest signature is from the present Queen which is in keeping with that record and marvellous for Aberdeen."

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