— Special Occasions

Edinburgh, a home from home for Queen Elizabeth II

We respectfully bid farewell to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch. Here we explore her extraordinary life spent in Scotland and the historical importance of St Giles Cathedral and The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Queen’s Life in Scotland

The mother of The Queen, also named Elizabeth, came from a Scottish family and resided at Glamis Castle in Angus. When she was a young princess, Elizabeth spent most of her summers in Scotland, either at Balmoral Castle with her parents or at Glamis with her maternal grandparents. Her Majesty The Queen’s lineage even traces back to the House of Bruce &Stewarts of Scotland.

She made her first public address in Aberdeen in 1944 while still a teen, opening a residence for the British Sailors' Society.

The Queen expressed her love of Scotland throughout her reign. Her family has enjoyed the beauty of the countryside for generations. One of her most notable visits to Scotland is when she tried our national drink, Irn-bru! We’re unsure if she did or did not enjoy it.

The Queen always looked forward to her annual family holiday at Balmoral. She frequently enjoyed walking and riding on the estate as well as spending time in the wider community, attending Crathie Kirk or visiting friends and relatives who live locally. The celebration of Ghillies Ball was enjoyed by all estate workers and the local community. This is where everyone was able to dance with the royal family and immerse themselves in traditional Scottish dancing. Local people, including members of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (SWRI), were often invited to attend.

When visiting Scotland, nothing deterred her from her duties and day job. In recent years, she named the Royal Navy's largest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth and opened The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. She also launched the Edinburgh-Tweed Bank Border Railway in 2015, becoming Britain's longest-reigning monarch, beating Queen Victoria's record.

One of The Queen's most unusual visits was in 1958 to the newly opened Ross colliery in Fife. In a white boiler suit, white scarf and miner's helmet, she descended 500m to go to the coal face. She was the first monarch since George V to hit the pit, and news pictures at the end of the visits how the boiler suit still in pristine white. During her reign, The Queen visited almost every part of Scotland.

She opened meetings of the Scottish Parliament, addressed the Church of Scotland Assembly, opened many bridges, and launched many ships. She has made history several times, including in 1960 when she became the first reigning monarch to visit the Shetland Islands since Viking King Haakon.

Queen Elizabeth was known for her sense of humour. One of the best interactions she had while staying at Balmoral Castle was with American tourists. While going on a hike on the grounds, he Queen, and her Royal Protection Officer Richard Griffin, met a couple from America. Unfortunately for the hikers, they never recognised her! Richard recalls The Queen taking the opportunity to play a trick on them when they asked her if she ever met Queen Elizabeth. She answered no but pointed out that Richard has, and he worked for her. Excited with this information, the tourists handed The Queen their cameras, asking if she could take a picture of them with Richard. Richard swiftly swapped places with Her Majesty and took a picture of the tourists with The Queen. After the picture taking, everyone gave their goodbyes and never told the tourists the truth. Hopefully, somebody has told the tourists.

Following the death of Her Majesty. Her Majesty The Queen’s coffin was taken in Procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St. Giles’ Cathedral, where she rested for 24 hours.

Exterior image of Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle


The Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, which was established as a monastery in 1128 at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, has a powerful linkage to Scottish history. Today, the Palace serves as a focal point for important Scottish national holidays and events, most notably The Queen's" Holyrood Week," which typically lasts from the end of June to the start of July each year. Visitors can enjoy a complimentary multilingual tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse's beautiful 14 historic and State Apartments, the majestic ruins of the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey, and exceptional royal gardens. The Palace served as the venue for numerous dramatic events during Mary, Queen of Scots' brief reign and is most remembered as her residence.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse reopened for visitors on the twenty-second of September.

Exterior photo of The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse

St Giles Cathedral

King Charles III and his siblings joined in the procession through Edinburgh that brought The Queen's coffin to the church. The minister praised Her Majesty and her "legendary love" for the country.

St. Giles was established in 1124 by Dauíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I), at a time when ties between Rome and the Scottish church were deepening. The majority of the Old Town was established before St Giles', which was constructed on Edinburgh's very eastern border. Later, when David I created the Abbey of Holyrood, he gave the abbot permission to construct homes up the ridge toward St. Giles, creating the Canongate burgh and the Royal Mile.

Every Sunday, there are four services, followed by music at6 p.m., Holy Communion at 8 a.m. on Fridays, and a service every day during the week at noon. The central act of worship at St. Giles' is Holy Communion, which is observed multiple times a week. Visitors are welcome to join the congregation in worship at the short weekday service at noon, which consists of readings and prayers.

Interior shot facing the podium of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral