Nicola Sturgeon has said she has “huge respect” for the Queen who she referred to as a “extraordinary individual” in a glowing tribute.
It comes as the UK celebrates the reigning monarch reaching the historic milestone of 70 years with a Platinum Jubilee celebration weekend.
The First Minister has spoke of the admiration she holds for the leader and said you don’t need to support the monarchy to have “huge respect” for the Queen.
She said: “I have deep respect for her like many people do.
“One of the great privileges of being First Minister, and I have this in common with my predecessors over the last years 70 years, is the opportunity to spend time alone with her, one on one in private.
“Obviously, the context of those conversations are rightly by convention completely private and confidential and I won’t breach that.
“She’s had a front role in the last 70 years of history. She has met probably every world leader during that time.
“One of the things that I feel great respect for the Queen, is just that dedication, that selfless commitment to duty and to service.
“And it’s why there are different opinions throughout the UK on the institution of monarchy, that’s right and proper in a democracy, we should celebrate the fact that we live in a democracy.
“But you don’t have to be a great supporter of the monarchy to have huge respect for the Queen and to think of her as a quite extraordinary individual, who everyone in the UK and the commonwealth owes a great deal of gratitude.”
The Platinum Jubilee weekend runs from June 2-5 and a mixture of large-scale events and small community gatherings have been planned to mark the occasion.
More than 3,000 beacons are also being lit across the UK and the Commonwealth.
It was announced that the Queen will miss Friday’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations after experiencing “discomfort” during Thursday’s celebrations.
The reigning monarch was scheduled to attend the thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral to continue the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.