CHAPTER FIFTEEN: A Royal Time In EdinburghAugust 29, 2022
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Horsing Around From Edinburgh To KillinSeptember 7, 2022
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Hooray For Holyrood
Day Sixteen: Playing The Palace, There’s Something About (Queen) Mary, Murder At The Palace, Cashmere Is Nothing To Sneeze At, Ice Cream Counts As Lunch?, Slammed, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? and Shoveling In Our Dinner
Finally, after waiting for five years, we were ready for our visit to the Palace of Holyrood House, the official residence of British monarchs when they visit Scotland. The last time we were in town, Princess Anne hijacked our attempt at touring the palace when she decided to drop in on the same day as our group. That would not be a problem today. We stopped for some of those mouthwatering pastries at Gordon Street Coffee and made the 15-minute walk down the Royal Mile to the palace. Along the way, we saw that the Blue Guy from when we entered town a few days ago had not made any headway in his seemingly futile attempt to climb the walls above The Waverley.
I had advance purchased a 10 a.m. entrance to Holyrood online, in an attempt avoid the throngs. It seems many of those masses had the same idea on a chilly morning. We passed by the Queen’s Gallery featuring old master paintings and decorative arts and made our way to the entrance.
The first thing that jumps out at you as you enter the courtyard is a rather large fountain. It’s a 19th-century replica of a 16th-century fountain from Linlithgow Palace (another palace we’d be shut out of on the following day).
We entered the Quadrangle of the palace under a clock with a large crown on top of it. There’s been an abbey on the grounds since the 12th century and in the early 16th century James IV began construction on a new Gothic Palace. We were here to learn about perhaps its most famous resident, Mary, Queen of Scots, who seemingly lived in every palace and castle in Scotland at one time or another.
The Quadrangle is simple, yet beautiful.
Before entering the palace you pass by two unicorns, the Royal Family Crest. One good thing about being shut out in 2017 was that no photos were allowed inside five years ago, while today it’s fine to take all the pictures you’d like.
Before heading up the Grand Staircase …we snapped a few photos of Holyrood memorabilia.
Queen Elizabeth’s portrait is from 2018, with the Queen Mother on the left being painted in 1967.
Charles II is not left out.
We were also privy to the Privy Chamber, which was actually Charles II Privy Chamber.
Although I thought the card table should be in the King’s Ante-Chamber, I decided to harp on the musical instruments in this room.
We admired the tapestries and chandelier before exiting the room.
This is a primo room at Holyrood, and the State Bed can be viewed from different angles.
Only one room in the palace has a “colored painting” on the ceiling. It’s good to be King.
Speaking of which, the King’s Closet ain’t bad either. These are actually called sleeping chairs.
Every king, both real and legendary, can be found in paintings on the walls of this room. State banquets are often held here.
Oh, there is one woman up on the wall, too … a full-length portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots. On the right is a gift rom Pope Benedict XVI to Queen Elizabeth when he visited her here in 2010.
So is the badge and collar of the Order of the Thistle, the “highest order of chivalry in Scotland, which was established by James VII/II in 1687.”
You can never have enough portraits, and sure enough the Ante-Chamber provided them.
This portrait is of Prince Henry Benedict Stuart, who in the 1700s became a cardinal. We read, “After the death of his brother in 1788, Prince Henry was considered by the Jacobites to be the next claimant to the British throne, styling himself Henry IX. Napoleon’s occupation of Italy in 1799 resulted in the cardinal’s financial ruin, but he was awarded an annual pension of £4,000 by George III, who took pity on him. His death in 1807 marked the extinction of the male line of the house of Stuart.” (That is why the Bear Gates at Traquair House, where we visited earlier in the trip, remain closed to this day.)
On Saturday, March 6, 1566, a very pregnant Mary was having dinner with her private secretary, David Rizzio. Mary and Lord Darnley had been estranged for a few months, and he accused Rizzio of seducing Mary (and assumedly other things). Around 80 men (including Darnley) entered the Queen’s Supper Chamber and while Darnley held Mary, Rizzio was bludgeoned 56 times, the last by Darnley himself. Rizzio died in the Outer Chamber and there is a plaque stating that Rizzio’s body “was left here after his murder.” There’s even a “blood stain” to prove it, one that legend says can never be cleaned up. Either that or it’s red wine (some say pig’s blood) to keep up the appearance of it being Rizzio’s blood. As for Darnley, he was strangled to death the following year just a few hundred yards from Holyrood Palace. Intrigue abounded … apparently a good life insurance policy was necessary in those days.
There’s also a 16th-century bust of Catherine de Medici, who was Mary’s first mother-in-law after marrying Catherine’s son, Francis (eventually Frances II, King of France) who died in 1560 leaving Mary a widow at 18. (Cliff Note version: Mary was betrothed to Francis when she was nine months old after the death of her father, King James V of Scotland. Francis was only four. Mary was sent to France at the age of six by her French mother to be raised at court and married Francis when he was 14. Shortly thereafter, Francis became King after his father, Henry II, was killed in a jousting accident. As the marriage never produced an heir (and some contend was never consummated) the widowed and now Catholic Queen Mary of France (and don’t forget, Queen of Scots) was returned to Protestant Scotland after Francis’ death.) There is so much history and intrigue in this story, you really can’t tell who is related to whom unless you have a royal scorecard.
Our visit of the interior was now complete. Outside, we strolled through the gardens.
Besides the requisite colorful flowers …
From a few different directions, we scoped out the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, which dates to 1128. It was closed on this day, but I doubt Anne had anything to do with it
Hikers in the distance were already attempting to ascend Arthurs Seat, the large, grass covered hill that encompasses the remains of an extinct volcano.
A nice person offered to take our photo before we left to prove that we actually were at the Palace.
I tried to buy Tracy a “God Save The Queen” apron, but she was too involved with some plush corgis.
Back outside I was nearly killed by the British Coat of Arms (the lion represents England, and the unicorn represents Scotland).
We wandered up the Royal Mile past museums, churches and other historical buildings we had visited in 2017.
It was the end of the world as I knew it when we reached this pub, but I didn’t feel fine. By the way, sometimes a smaller font is required.
The Royal Mile was incredibly crowded so we took refuge inside a store selling scarves. Refuge for most, but Mary’s sneeze reminded us she’s allergic to cashmere, she escaped unscathed, unlike me, as Tracy started her holiday shopping early.
Up the Royal Mile we traveled toward the castle, which I considered revisiting. However, the crowds were overwhelming, and the scent of Covid was in the air.
The grandstands for the Royal Military Tattoo were progressing nicely, as we headed back down.
I thought about purchasing some pink gin at a nearby store, but we opted for a late gelato lunch instead.
By now my arm was killing me, and we told Kim and Mary we might have to abandon them and see if we could get a flight home from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Flights were few and far between due to a big fútbol game in Paris and the upcoming Jubilee celebration, not to mention, that they were very expensive. We kept searching.
The place was slammed, and understaffed. The young servers and bartenders were working their butts off, and our server told us it would take a while to get our food. The beer was good, and we were in no hurry.
The atmosphere here was very lively, and when we did get our food it was quite good. I devoured my bacon burger with cheese. Perhaps I need to eat a little more than gelato for lunch. The place was so slammed, even the chef came out to help clear the dining area. All in all, I’d give this pub a big thumbs up, not only for its food, but for their hard working personnel.
Mary said, “Whatever you decide, it will be ok with us.” Then she added, remember your motto, “Attitude is Everything. Enjoy The journey.” After tossing and turning (carefully) all night, we decided to stick with our mantra.
Tomorrow we’d head out to Killin for one night. Along the way, we’d get shut out of another castle, do a little horsing around at a place I learned about only shortly before leaving for the UK and stop at the only rotating boat lift in the world. In Killin, we wondered if I really had made a lodging reservation, and, oh yeah, Kim almost gets run over by a bus.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Scotland Scenery Steals The Show
Day Seventeen: Decision, Shut Out Again, Horsing Around, The Big Wheel, Callander Girls, We’re Killin It, Is Anybody Home?, My Kind Of Falls, Kim Nearly Gets Run Over and the Busboy Playlist