The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Submitted by George Farquhar on Mon, 2011-04-25

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle. Holyrood Palace is the setting for state ceremonies and official entertaining.

Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots in 1128, and Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 15th century. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies.

The palace as it stands today is largely the work of the late 17th-century, with the exception of the 16th-century north-west tower.

North-west tower

The wooden ceilings of the main rooms date from Queen Mary’s time, and the monograms MR (Maria Regina) and IR (Jacobus Rex) refer to Mary and her son, James VI. Shields commemorating Mary’s marriage to Francis II of France are believed to have been carved in 1559 but put in their present position in 1617. The suite contains an audience chamber and the Queen’s bedroom, leading from which are two turret rooms or closets. It was in the northern turret room, on 9 March 1565, that the infamous murder of David Rizzio took place in Mary’s presence. In later centuries, tourists were often convinced that they could see his blood stains on the floor.

Official Role

In modern times, monarchs have spent at least one week every year formally holding court in the Palace. The present Queen still uses it when she is in Scotland for State occasions (on non-State occasions, she stays at Balmoral). Its use has increased substantially since the setting up of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, with various members of the Royal Family, notably Prince Charles and Princess Anne often staying there. At the Palace the Queen meets and appoints the First Minister of Scotland.

In its role as the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, Holyroodhouse has hosted a number of important foreign visitors and dignitaries. Distinguished visitors to the palace have included Harald V of Norway, Margrethe II of Denmark, Fran├žois Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Nelson Mandela, Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI.

A meeting of the European Council was held at the palace during the British presidency of the council in 1992.

The Queen’s Gallery is located within the Palace complex, while the new Scottish Parliament Building is located across the road from the palace.

The palace is open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.

Visit The Palace of Holyroodhouse section of The British Monarchy website: http://www.royal.gov.uk/TheRoyalResidences/ThePalaceofHolyroodhouse/TheP… for additional info.

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