Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the University and fellow honorary graduates, I need hardly say how touched I am that the University of Aberdeen should have considered doing me this very great honour.
However, I am not absolutely sure the graduate body was fully aware that by electing me it was making history - in a modest sort of way, of course - because I have a feeling that I may be the first, and probably the only, person to become Chancellor of one of the great Universities in the world who managed to leave school at the age of 16. So, when I say this is a very great honour, I mean it!
I must confess that there were some profoundly intimidating aspects to the appointment. Most daunting of all was to know that I would be succeeding Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, not only an outstanding public servant and scholar but also, since 1997, a great ambassador for the University. And so I can only say that I will do all I can to live up to the very high standards of excellence and service he has set.
It was also rather alarming to learn, for example, that the role of the Chancellor of the University was defined in the second of the two foundation charters as being to defend the privileges and immunities of the University so that 'raven wolves do not invade the College and its flock'. I ought to tell you at once that I am not absolutely certain how I will best defend you from raven wolves, but perhaps Lord Wilson may be able to give me some suitable contra-lupine advice!
There was also the somewhat disturbing discovery that from time to time I would be required in my official capacity to recite in Latin. I must confess, and this may surprise you, that speaking Latin is not exactly my strong point - despite my husband's patient coaching! And then there was the sheer weight of history and tradition. Founded over 500 years ago, the University's reputation for excellence was, from the start, acknowledged to be outstanding and continues to be so to this day. Aberdeen is ranked amongst the top 200 universities in the world. It has produced 5 Nobel laureates and what, I think is particularly striking, is that the student community represents 120 nationalities. To say it is truly world class is to state a simple fact.
There were also many more things to reassure me, in which I rejoice. My father's family, the Shands, hail from North-East Scotland, from near Banff in fact. So this city is central to my Scottish heritage and has taken on an even greater importance now, because whenever I come to Scotland which, I'm happy to say, is frequently - it is in Aberdeen that my visits always begin. It is what I like to call my home port.
Most reassuring of all, is to learn of the magnificent work this University does; its huge investment in medical research, for instance, follows one of the long-established purposes of William Elphinstone who founded King's College to train doctors. But he also wanted the institution to educate teachers, clergy, lawyers and administrators - in fact, to enable men and women to contribute to civil society in every conceivable way.
There is another great project initiated by the University which is especially dear to my heart and that is the flagship of the capital investment plan, the magnificent library, for which £60 million was raised and that was done with the support of my husband, The Duke of Rothesay, who was the Campaign's Patron. That makes me very proud. And libraries, whether they be great and splendid like the one built here on this campus, or more humble ones in towns and villages, are, to me central to the civilised values to which we all subscribe. And so I hope very much to be able to encourage work done by the University to reduce illiteracy, an unimaginable handicap to those of us who take our ability to read and write for granted.
In conclusion, I thank you again for honouring me in this way and for making me your Chancellor. I have talked of the University's great past and I hope that, together, we may be part of what will be its equally great future.
Thank you very much.