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Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen’s Gallery

Palace of Hollyroodhouse located at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Image: Wikimedia

Once upon a time, King David I, was out hunting when he fell from his stag. Just when the stag was about to slaughter him the king grabbed the stag’s antlers and found himself holding a rood, or holy cross. He was spared. That night the king dreamt that he was commanded to build a house ‘devoted to the Cross’. And so, Holyrood Abbey was built. Today, the Palace of the Holyrood House, the official royal residence of British sovereign, is comfortably located at the end of the Royal Mile, standing opposite the bleak Edinburgh Castle. It was King James II who built a wing here just for the use of the Royal Family. Much of the present-day palace though was built under the orders of Charles II, who never lived in Holyroodhouse.

In one of the small rooms of the Palace was where the jealous Lord Darney, husband to Mary Queen of Scots, planned the murder of David Rizzio, while enjoying time with the queen and her ladies-in-waiting to the game of cards. Surprisingly for a royal family, Queen Mary’s Bedchamber is too small for her royal stature and for such a tall lady (she was 6-foot tall). Next to the Queen’s Bedchamber is the Outer Chamber, where the Queen Mary’s needlework during her long captivity are displayed. Paintings and her royal mementos also featured in this room.

Ruins of the Holyrood Abbey. Image: Pixabay

Inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Image: Wikimedia

Downstairs in the Great Gallery hang portraits of Scotland’s early royals. Dutch artist Jacob de Wet was commissioned to paint them. However, he never knew how they looked like, so he had to put his imagination to test. What you will find here are all portraits of royals with the same long-nosed face.

In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee. In celebration to this milestone, The Queen’s Gallery, built inside the Palace grounds, was opened. Aside from the paintings on display, the Gallery itself is worth the look because of the quality of craftsmanship of the building. The site where the Gallery stands was were the Holyrood Free Church and the Duchess of Gordon’s School once stood. Guests are greeted by the new stone arched entrance with Scotland’s lion. The arch is bedecked with a carved garland of wild flowers. The hinges of the entrance doors look like boughs of chestnut, laburnum, oak, rowan and hawthorn and other native trees. Inside, the Gallery features paintings from the Royal Collection—a delightful treat to complete your visit in the Palace.  

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