As the reigning sovereign of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth has not one, but a handful of official royal residences scattered around the UK. In Scotland, Balmoral is her private estate and much-loved summer home—but the Palace of Holyroodhouse has the distinction of being the monarch's official residence in the country. Here's what you should know about the palace.
It dates back to the 12th Century.
Legend has it that in 1128, David I of Scotland had a vision of a stag with a cross between its antlers, and was inspired to build an Augustinian monastery in the same place. The abbey flourished, and from early on, included royal quarters for the monarch. Later, in the early 16th century, James IV decided to convert these spaces into a palace; his successor, James V, built the famous tower at the north-west corner of the palace—one of the oldest structures at Holyroodhouse that still survives today. Under James VI, Charles II, Queen Victoria, the palace continued to be remodeled and built up.
Through the centuries, the residence was often at the center of history. The short, tumultuous reign of Mary, Queen of Scots played out against the backdrop of Holyroodhouse; during the civil war, Oliver Cromwell's troops were billeted at the Scottish palace.
George V made it into a modern royal residence.
The palace was fitted with central heating, new bathrooms, and an elevator during the King's reign in the early 20th century. It was also during this time that the Palace of Holyroodhouse was recognized as the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, and the sovereign began hosting garden parties on the grounds.
Today, Queen Elizabeth continues to use the palace as a residence.
Every year in late June and early July, during a week aptly dubbed "Holyrood Week," the Queen travels to Scotland for a series of engagements and stays at the palace. (Of course, due to the coronavirus, this year's Holyrood Week—along with the rest of the Queen's engagements for the foreseeable future—have been canceled or rescheduled.)
The most famous of these annual events is the Queen's garden party. Traditionally, every summer, the monarch hosts three of these fêtes at Buckingham Palace, and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse during Holyrood Week—the latter of which, per the royal family's website, hosts 8,000 guests. The Queen also hosts investitures in the palace's Great Gallery, and meetings in the Morning Drawing Room.
It's open year-round for visitors.
Royal watchers and history enthusiasts alike can enjoy the palace—and unlike some royal residences that are still in use, it's always open to the public. (At the moment, all palaces and the like are closed to due to COVID-19, but presumably once it's safe again, they'll be up and running as usual.)
Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.
You Might Also Like