One of the Queen’s two residences in Scotland (the other being Balmoral), Holyrood is situated in the centre of Edinburgh at the bottom of the Royal Mile opposite the Scottish Parliament and boasts magnificent views of Arthur’s Seat. Inside the palace, you can tour the state apartments, which are open to the public whenever the royal family aren’t in residence.
There’s plenty to see within the state apartments, including the throne room and the great gallery, which is home to an extensive set of portraits of Scotland’s monarchs (both real and imaginary) by the Dutch painter Jacob de Wet. I particularly enjoyed Mary, Queen of Scots’s apartments where Mary lived on her return to Scotland from France and which were the setting for her second marriage to Henry, Lord Darnley, and his subsequent murder of her secretary David Rizzio.
At the end of my tour of the royal apartments I dropped in on a temporary fashion exhibition to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, where outfits worn by the Queen during her reign, as well as her childhood, were on display. It was fascinating to see all these royal outfits up close as the accompanying photographs of the Queen wearing the clothes don’t convey all the intricate and delicate embroidery work on some of the pieces. I also enjoyed seeing how the Queen’s style has evolved over the years.
Next to the palace is the ruined Holyrood Abbey, which was originally founded by David I in 1128, and during its illustrious history has hosted the births, marriages and coronations of various Scottish monarchs. It’s an incredibly beautiful and evocative building, and must have been a grand and wonderful sight before it fell to ruin. Before leaving, I took a walk around the peaceful palace gardens and enjoyed the spectacular views of Arthur’s Seat. The palace also has a great cafe, which made for a nice spot for lunch.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX
Open 9.30am-6pm (26 March-31 October), 9.30am-4.30pm (1 November-25 March), seven days a week
Adults £12.00, Children £7.20, Concessions £11.00