Kay, Tom and I spent two of the best weeks of my life in Scotland in 2009. We started our tour by spending three days in Edinburgh where, among many wonderful sights, we visited St. Giles Cathedral. Inside the church is the tiny Thistle Chapel where Prince William was knighted yesterday by his grandmother, the Queen of England, who is also the Sovereign of the Order. Her Coat of Arms is carved into the dais in front of her seat. The Chapel's woodwork is intricately hand carved, the tall ceilings stately and ornate, and even though it was built in the early 1900's, looks (and smells) quite medieval.
|St. Giles Cathedral
|The Queen's seat
|Her Coat of Arms
|The ornate ceiling in the Thistle Chapel
The Palace of Holyrood is where the Royals stay when they are in town, which is usually the first week of July. It was at the end of the day when Kay and I started our tour and we almost had the place to ourselves. Even Tom elected to pass on the Palace and tour a local pub instead. One of the first rooms we saw was the dining room where a large portrait of King George IV in full Royal Stewart regalia hung on the wall. It was at that moment I claimed Holyrood Palace as my own, being a Stewart myself, thanks to my maternal grandfather. (Mary Queen of Scots, having been raised in France, changed the spelling of the name Stewart to the french spelling of Stuart. However it's spelled, it is the same clan.)
The Palace is steeped in English and Scottish history. The most notable is that Queen Mary resided here after her second marriage to Lord Darnley. It was in her tiny supper room that Darnley dragged Queen Mary's personal secretary, Rizzio (while clinging to her skirts) into her outer chambers and had him stabbed 56 times. Darnley, brutish to the core, was jealous of Rizzio's influence on the Queen. She was quite pregnant at the time with the future King of England, King James IV. We saw that room that had, until recently, the blood stains preserved on the floor. Great Scottish drama if there ever was one!
|Palace of Holyrood
|The Palace is attached to the ruins of Holyrood Abby, originally built in 1128.
|We also had the gardens completely to ourselves, sniffing the Queen's flowers.