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Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of her “deep respect” for the Queen, saying her private conversations with the monarch are one of the privileges of being Scotland’s First Minister. Ms Sturgeon said she wanted the Queen and her successors to remain as head of state if Scotland became independent. In an interview with the BBC, the First Minister said even those who were not “great supporters” of the monarchy still thought of her as a “quite extraordinary individual”.

She said: “One of the things that I feel great respect for the Queen around is just that dedication, that selfless commitment to duty and to service.”

It is SNP policy for the Queen and her successors to remain head of state, she said.

Speaking about her conversations with the Queen, Ms Sturgeon said: “I like her a lot – I have deep respect for her as many people do.

“The context of those conversations are rightly by convention completely private and confidential and I won’t breach that.

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“But I think it is fair to say that, that opportunity to talk with her, to benefit from her knowledge, her wisdom and perhaps above all the completely unique perspective she has on modern world history, is something that I deeply value and will always really treasure.”

She continued: “I have benefited from it, I have learned from it and it is something I will always cherish.

“She is somebody who has had a front-row seat on the last 70 years of history.

“She has met every world leader over that time. She has seen up close and personal some of the key events of history.

And she urged all Scots to mark Her Majesty’s “values of integrity, wisdom, justice and compassion” – regardless of their views on the institution of the British monarchy.

She said: “It is of course the case that there are, and always have been different views in our country, indeed in this chamber, about the institution of the monarchy, and the democratic right to express those views is always to be celebrated.

“But this occasion of the Platinum Jubilee is not just about an institution. It is above all about the life and service of an extraordinary woman, someone who had no more choice than any of us do about the circumstances into which she was born- but someone who has given a lifetime of dedicated service.

“We should all pay tribute to that. And so it is absolutely right that we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

“Let us congratulate her warmly or a reign of unprecedented length and let us acknowledge with deep gratitude and respect her dedication to duty.”