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Palace of Holyroodhouse


(Holyrood Palace)

Holyrood Palace
©2017 Gazetteer for Scotland

Holyrood Palace

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is Her Majesty the Queen's official residence in Scotland. Situated on the edge of Holyrood Park, at the eastern end of the Royal Mile which runs down from Edinburgh Castle. The palace developed from a royal guesthouse which had been part of Holyrood Abbey. The new building was completed for King James IV (1473 - 1513) in 1504, with additions made between 1528 and 1536 by his son King James V (1512-42). The palace was damaged during English invasions, first by the Earl of Hertford (1544), and again by Oliver Cromwell (1650). Thus, much of the current building was the result of a reconstruction in 1671 by architect Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710) and builder Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710) for King Charles II (1630 - 1685). The palace includes historic apartments, state rooms and Mary, Queen of Scots, chambers built round three sides of an elegant piazza.

Mary (1542 - 1587) spent much time at Holyrood. Her second and third marriages (to Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell respectively) took place in the Abbey. She looked on as her secretary David Rizzio was murdered in the palace in 1566.

Following King James VI (1566 - 1625) accession to the English throne, and move to London (1603), the palace was not used as a royal residence until it was restored for the coronation of King Charles I (1600 - 1649) in 1633.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720 - 1788) briefly held court in the palace in 1745, and this was recounted as one of the most glittering events in Edinburgh society of the time. The younger brother of French King Louis XVI, the Comte d'Artois, was given the use of Holyrood between 1796 and 1803, after he hurriedly left France following the Revolution of 1792. King George IV made use of the palace during his popular visit to Scotland in 1822, the first reigning British monarch to visit Scotland in nearly two centuries. Artois returned to Holyrood as the exiled Charles X, the last Bourbon King of France having been deposed in the July Revolution of 1830, staying for almost two years.

Holyrood has subsequently been used regularly by each succeeding British monarch. King George V and Queen Mary began hosting garden parties in the grounds of the palace in the 1920s and the tradition is continued each summer, with several parties attended by thousands of prominent members of the community in Scotland.

Holyrood Palace was the location for a summit of the European Council of Ministers in 1992.


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