Let’s segue from the Princess Royal’s tour of China to what the Queen has been up to: Holyrood Week, or as it’s known in Scotland, “Royal Week.” Each summer, the Queen spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, the primary residence of kings and queens of Scotland since the 16th century.
Like many palaces still in use today, it’s become an architectural amalgam of various time periods thanks to different monarchs tacking on this or that to make the residence fit their specific needs. It’s perhaps best-known for serving as one of Mary, Queen of Scots’ homes, and her apartments are open to the public any other week of the year. The oldest portion of the Palace is the north-west tower built by Mary’s father, James V, while the vast majority of the building actually dates to the 1670s and, like Buckingham Palace, is in a once-fashionable quadrangle.
The original palace, most of which is now lost, was built by James IV, husband to Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor, in 1501, on the site of a monastery constructed in 1128. His idea was to create a home magnificent enough to complement the accompanying Abbey, built by David II in the 12th century. The closest comparison in England would be the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, though the site of the palace is obviously no longer used as a royal residence.
While the Queen’s love of Scotland is well-established (the Queen Mother grew up there, after all), she spends the majority of her time at Balmoral Castle, a private residence of the Royal Family since the reign of Queen Victoria. Holyrood Week, on the other hand, is carved out not for respite but for a series of engagements meant to highlight Scottish culture, achievements and community. The custom actually began with Victoria, further evidence that so much of the RF’s current schedule and tradition can be traced back to her.
The week on Sunday, July 2 with the Ceremony of the Keys during which the Queen was formally welcomed into the City of Edinburgh. The following day the Queen hosted an Investiture in the Palace’s Great Gallery to award Scottish residents who have made a significant contribution to society.
The Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, then hosted a garden party, which serve the same function as those which are hosted at BP earlier in the year.
On July 4th, the Queen and Philip traveled to Stirling to see the newest portion of Scotland’s canals, named the Queen Elizabeth II Canal. They traveled down it by barge, leading a small flotilla, which ended at the Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk. The Queen, beaming, was met by cheering crowds along the waterway. Andrew Thin, chairman of Scottish Canals, said:
“We are honoured that Her Majesty the Queen was able to join us to celebrate the naming of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal in her honour. The Kelpies and the Queen Elizabeth II Canal are helping put Falkirk and Grangemouth on tourists’ ‘to see’ lists the world over.”
A later engagement that day saw a visit to Stirling Castle in honor of the Queen’s 70 years as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Other stops throughout the week included the Highland Spring factory building in Perthshire, housing the fastest and most technologically-advanced production line in the UK, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, where the Queen presented Royal Medals.
Philip, meanwhile, hosted the Duke of Edinburgh Award Gold Presentations, which have become the leading youth achievement awards since their launch in 1956.
Throughout the week, the Queen held one-on-one meetings with various officials, including with Scotland’s First Minister, Nichola Sturgeon. Another high-profile meeting was with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was passing through on his way to the G20 Summit in Hamburg. But the visit caused a mini-furor when it was reported Trudeau met with the Queen and not Sturgeon, which was read as a bizarre snub despite their similar political platforms.
As reported by The Guardian:
“There are suspicions in the Scottish government the Liberal party leader was unwilling to meet Sturgeon because of her support for independence and the possible parallels with the separatist movement in Quebec, the Canadian province previously run by the pro-independence Parti Québécois.”
While Trudeau’s camp put the situation down to the limitations of timing, it should also be noted he did meet with Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar. So, your guess is as good as mine.
Trudeau’s visit with the Queen came just days after he hosted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for Canada Day, and only a few months after he saw Charles and his sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, in France for the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The Queen and Philip will be back in London for this coming week’s state visit from King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.