Queen Elizabeth II and Scotland: How the ‘Queen of England’ had Scottish ancestry and ‘affection’, related to Mary Queen of Scots

The late Queen Elizabeth II had a relationship to Scotland bound not only by royal duty, but also ancestry and ‘affection’.

The Queen peacefully died at her beloved Balmoral Castle on 8 September, meaning she spent her final days in Scotland.

According to Operation Unicorn, her body since lay at rest in Edinburgh at St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile before being moved to London.

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This historical outcome is fitting not only due to the location of Her Majesty’s death but also her relationship with the Scots that spans both her heritage and personal life.

According to the historian Robert Stedall, the Queen is related to Mary Queen of Scots via Henry VII's sister Queen Margaret of Scotland.
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Does Queen Elizabeth II have Scottish ancestry?

Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, who died aged 101 in 2002, was of Scottish ancestry as she was a member of the Bowes-Lyon family.

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The Royal Family website says: “The Bowes-Lyon family is descended from the Royal House of Scotland.”

Furthermore, according to National Records of Scotland, the Queen’s parents shared Robert II King of Scots as a common ancestor: “Through her father King George VI she was directly descended from James VI of Scotland.

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Queen Elizabeth II during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gates at Balmoral, as she takes up summer residence at the castle.

“Through her mother’s family, the Bowes-Lyons, Earls of Strathmore, she could trace her ancestry back through generations of Scottish nobility to Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis, who married Robert II’s daughter in the fourteenth century.”

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Historian Robert Stedall also explained that Queen Elizabeth II is a ‘direct descendant’ of Queen Margaret of Scotland who was the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots.

Was Queen Elizabeth II fond of Scotland?

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The Royal Family website says that the Queen was always “open about her affection for Scotland throughout her reign”.

The country witnessed history in the making as her Majesty visited for her Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilees.

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During a visit to Perth in 2021, the Queen said: “Scotland has played such a very special part in our lives, and that of my family, over the years and we have greatly enjoyed our frequent visits.”

Scotland also holds significance to the Queen as a public figure as she gave her first public speech as a teenager in Aberdeen in 1944 as she opened a home for the British Sailors’ Society.

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A sanctuary for the Queen, Balmoral Castle, can also be found in Northeast Scotland.

Here, her Majesty rode her horses, had picnics, and pushed her children around on wagons on the castle grounds, allowing her to set aside the formality of Buckingham Palace.

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Her fondness was also to Scots themselves, when addressing the Scottish Parliament in 2021, the Queen said: “I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country.

“It is the people that make a place and there are few places where this is truer than Scotland.”

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How did the Queen feel about Scottish independence?

The Queen opened the 129-member Scottish parliament in 1999, which lent Scotland greater power to pass their own laws or change taxes, a huge political development at the time.

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However, despite an expectation to stay politically neutral it appears the Queen did have opinions on Scotland’s constitutional future.

Before the 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence, which the country voted to reject, the late British monarch expressed her wish that the public “think very carefully about the future.”

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Reportedly, former Prime Minister David Cameron overheard the Queen “purring” with happiness when he called her to let her know that Scotland had voted against independence in the referendum.

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