The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.
While the Edinburgh Castle is at one end of the Royal Mile, the other end is Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland. Alongside it, and dating from an earlier time, is the remains of the Abbey of Holyrood.
The queen wasn’t home. In fact, she only spends about a week here, once a year at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.
The palace as it stands today was built between 1671-1678 in a quadrangle layout. No photos were allowed inside. Darn it.
Holyrood Abbey is a ruined abbey attached to the Palace. The abbey was founded in 1128 by King David I. During the 15th century, the abbey guesthouse was developed into a royal residence, and after the Scottish Reformation the Palace of Holyroodhouse was expanded further. The abbey church was used as a parish church until the 17th century, and has been ruined since the 18th century. The remaining walls of the abbey lie adjacent to the palace, at the eastern end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
Rood is an old word for the cross which Jesus Christ was crucified upon; thus the name Holyrood is equivalent to “Holy Cross.” In the church was preserved, in a golden reliquary, the fragment of the True Cross brought by David’s mother, St. Margaret, from Waltham Abbey, and known thereafter as the Black Rood of Scotland. Those are my friends, Kathy and Julia, in the middle of the photo.
Legend relates that in 1127, while King David I was hunting in the forests to the east of Edinburgh during the Feast of the Cross, he was thrown from his horse after it had been startled by a hart. According to variations of the story, the king was saved from being gored by the charging animal when it was startled either by the miraculous appearance of a holy cross descending from the skies, or by sunlight reflected from a crucifix which suddenly appeared between the hart’s antlers while the king attempted to grasp them in self-defense. As an act of thanksgiving for his escape, David I founded Holyrood Abbey on the site in 1128.
Holyrood Abbey was the site of the coronations of James II in 1437, Margaret Tudor in 1504, Mary of Guise in 1540, Anne of Denmark in 1590, and Charles I in 1633.
Edinburgh Castle is an historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
You can’t see a skyline of Edinburgh without the Castle Rock in the background. It shows up in the background of so many of my photos. It’s a lovely site and I got a chance to see it up close. I’ve quoted from Wikipedia for this post, far heavier than usual.
More than a castle, it is a defensive fortification, as the thick walls and gates indicate. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world”
The views from the rock are tremendous. The Castle Rock is the remains of a volcanic pipe, which cut through the surrounding sedimentary rock before cooling to form very hard dolerite, a type of basalt. Subsequent glacial erosion was resisted by the dolerite, which protected the softer rock to the east, leaving a crag and tail formation, This means that the only readily accessible route to the castle lies to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently. The defensive advantage of such a site is self-evident, but the geology of the rock also presents difficulties, since basalt is extremely impermeable. Hence, there are no springs on the rock and getting water, especially during a siege, was difficult.
Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, at the west end of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The volcanic Castle Rock offers a naturally defended position, with sheer cliffs to north and south, and a steep ascent from the west. The only easy approach is from the town to the east, and the castle’s defenses are situated accordingly, with a series of gates protecting the route to the summit of the Castle Rock.
The oldest building in the castle, and in Edinburgh, is the small St. Margaret’s Chapel. One of the few 12th-century structures surviving in any Scottish castle. It dates from the reign of King David I (r.1124–1153), who built it as a private chapel for the royal family and dedicated it to his mother, Saint Margaret of Scotland, who died in the castle in 1093. It survived the slighting of 1314, when the castle’s defenses were destroyed on the orders of Robert the Bruce, and was used as a gunpowder store from the 16th century, when the present roof was built. In 1845, it was “discovered” by the antiquary Daniel Wilson, while in use as part of the larger garrison chapel, and was restored in 1851–1852. The chapel is still used for religious ceremonies, such as weddings.
The Scottish National War Memorial
The 15th-century siege gun or bombard known as Mons Meg is displayed on a terrace in front of St. Margaret’s Chapel. She was constructed in Flanders on the orders of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1449, and given as a gift to King James II, the husband of his niece, in 1457. The 13,000-pound gun rests on a reconstructed carriage. That’s my friend Julia to the right. We got the audio guide and it was well worth it.
This is so endearing: a graveyard for the soldiers’ dogs.
The Royal Palace comprises the former royal apartments, which were the residence of the later Stewart monarchs. It was begun in the mid 15th century, during the reign of James IV. The building was extensively remodeled for the visit of James VI to the castle in 1617, when state apartments for the King and Queen were built. On the ground floor is the Laich (low) Hall, now called the King’s Dining Room, and a small room, known as the Birth Chamber or Mary Room, where James VI was born to Mary, Queen of Scots, in June 1566. The commemorative painted ceiling and other decoration were added in 1617. On the first floor is the vaulted Crown Room, built in 1615 to house the Honors of Scotland: the crown, the scepter and the sword of state. The Stone of Scone, upon which the monarchs of Scotland were traditionally crowned, has been kept in the Crown Room since its return to Scotland in 1996. While I got to see them, there were no photos allowed.
I had two reasons for going to Scotland. 1). I’d never been there and 2). I got to see my two dear friends, Kathy and Julia! We spent lots of time touring the city where Kathy spent her college years. It was great to have a personal tour guide. We also spent a “bit” of time tasting wine and catching up.
The Weather in Edinburgh was cold, but we has partly sunny days and no rain or snow. The snowdrops were even blooming. I consider myself lucky.
One of the great spots we toured was Her Majesty’s Yacht.
During her 43-year career, the yacht traveled more than a million nautical miles around the globe. Today, she is a museum ship and events venue permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is visited by around 300,000 tourists each year. This is the UK’s number one tourist attraction, according to Trip Adviser.
During her career as Royal Yacht, Britannia conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. In this time, Britannia steamed 1,087,623 nautical miles (2,014,278 km).
Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since King Charles II acceded to the throne in 1660, and is the second royal yacht to bear the name.
Here you can see Ocean Terminal. To reach the boat, you must enter a mall and go to the top floor. The Royal Yacht’s last foreign mission was to convey the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten (now Lord Patten of Barnes), and the Prince of Wales back from Hong Kong after its handover to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997. Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997. The Queen is reported to have shed a tear at the decommissioning ceremony that was attended by most of the senior members of the Royal Family.
The Queen’s bedroom, the only bedroom of a living monarch which can be viewed (behind a glass wall),
Prince Philip’s bedroom.
The only double bed on the boat, and the bedroom for various honeymoons on board.
The State Dining Room, which hosted grand receptions for kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers throughout the world. Treasures from around the world are on the walls.
Though it was decorated primarily in the 1950’s, I didn’t find it especially dated. (compare that with Graceland!) The majority of the items on view are the originals, on loan from the Royal Collection and other contributors. There is an excellent audio guide included with the ticket price.
Cramped quarters for the crew. The crew of Royal Yachtsmen were volunteers from the general service of the Royal Navy. Officers were appointed for up to two years, while the “yachtsmen” were drafted as volunteers and after 365 days’ service could be admitted to “The Permanent Royal Yacht Service” (upon volunteering and subsequently being accepted) as Royal Yachtsmen and served until they chose to leave the Royal Yacht Service or were dismissed for medical or disciplinary reasons. As a result, some served for 20 years or more. The ship also carried a platoon of Royal Marines when members of the Royal Family were on board.
The crew did not have so much room as the Royal Family. Tight quarters are one thing, but they had many different uniforms and sometimes had to change up to six times a day. Where did they keep all those uniforms?
This is the surgery and it was well fitted out for the day. Britannia was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this capability was never used. In the event of nuclear war, it was intended for the Queen to take refuge aboard Britannia along the north-west coast of Scotland.