It is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland and it has a fair few stories to tell. Here are five reasons why the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a must see in the capital.
1. It’s better than The Crown
The Netflix series may have invigorated Royal history with lashings of glamour and aristocratic high jinks but step through the gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and genuine stories of murder, rebellion, tragedy and treachery will unfold before you.
Better than anything you’ll see on television, you’ll walk the same corridors and stand in the same rooms as the Royals have done before you over hundreds of years.
2. The best bedrooms in Scotland
The bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots is a beguiling highlight of the palace. After scaling a narrow , steep and winding staircase, you’ll find where she slept, protected by battlements and fortified walls, during her time here between 1561 and 1567.
One of the most fascinating items held by the palace is an embroidery of Mary’s which she created during her captivity under Elizabeth I.
In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie also slept at the palace in the four poster Darnley bed which is lavishly embellished and decorated with plumes of ostrich feathers.
3. Stand in a 16th century murder scene
Just off Mary Queen of Scot’s bedchamber is the tiny Supper Room where the monarch witnessed the murder of her private secretary, David Rizzio, on March 9 1566.
Killed by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley, and a group of powerful Scottish lords, Rizzio was stabbed 56 times. It is claimed that the bloodstains from Rizzio’s body are still visible in the Outer Chamber where he was left for all to see.
It is said his body lies in an unmarked grave next to Holyrood Abbey.
Darnley was murdered in a gunpowder explosion in Edinburgh the following year.
4. Enter the Great Hall just like Bonnie Prince Charlie did
Bonnie Prince Charlie set up court at the Palace in September 1745 amid his ill-fated campaign to restore the Stuart line to the British throne.
The Great Gallery became central to court life with the Prince often holding an audience of admiring Edinburgh ladies within its walls. The room was also used for evening entertainments and, probably, at least one ball.
This was imagined in the John Pettie portrait ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie Enters the Ballroom at Holyroodhouse’ which was painted around 140 years after the Edinburgh stay. It shows the young prince stepping over the threshold into the long, grand room.
5. See the slash marks left during a Hanoverian revenge spree
Slash marks can be found on a number of portraits of the ruling Stuarts which hang in the Great Gallery.
Commissioned by Charles II, they tell the story of enraged Hanoverian troops who were billeted at the palace around the time of the Jacobite victory at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746.
The portraits of the Stuarts became a target for the troops who set about to destroy a number of the paintings of their enemies, leaving a very tangible trace of the often ugly pursuit of power.