It’s a big week for the Royal Family with the Queen in Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales on his annual trek to Wales, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex making their first trip to Forfar, Scotland. In a slight break from the Cambridges and Sussexes, I thought we’d check in with the other members of the family and get out of England for a quick minute.
N.B. I said on Monday that I’d post this yesterday, but I decided to hold off a day thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearance at Wimbledon. You can catch up on that here if you missed it.
Let’s start with the Wessexes (as a quick reminder, the Earl is also known as Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, and the Countess is his wife, Sophie). Earlier this year, the Queen bequeathed her son the title “Earl of Forfar” to commemorate his 55th birthday, a Scottish title that he and his wife can now use when in the country. In a slightly comical slip-up, the Royal Family’s official Twitter seems to have forgotten when Edward was bestowed this particular moniker and twice referred to it as having been granted in 2018. If only.
Forfar has some significance to the Queen in that it’s the county closest to Glamis Castle, the childhood home of her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. You can read more about it here in a post covering the Queen Mother’s childhood and adolescence. Anyway, the couple made their first visit since receiving the titles on Monday to carry out a day of engagements. After a walkabout, the two were welcomed by students from four local Highland dancing schools who have competed around the world. They were then presented with a new tartan designed in honor of their new titles, and a selection of local fare to try.
During a stop by St John’s Episcopal Church, the two were shown the entry for the confirmation of the Queen Mother, then listed as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
This was a big day for Edward and Sophie, but arguably a bigger day for Forfar. One report noted that the town hasn’t seen this much fanfare since the Queen visited back in 2004. (And I’m using tweets to illustrate the day because photos haven’t become available yet via Getty.)
Moving over to Edinburgh, Holyrood Week is underway. I covered this in 2017, but failed to last year, so let’s do a quick refresher. Essentially, for one week every summer the Queen stays in the Palace of Holyroodhouse and carries out engagements throughout Scotland. Incidentally, it’s known as “Royal Week” in Scotland. And Holyroodhouse is basically the Buckingham Palace of Edinburgh, though from a historical perspective, it’s more akin to Windsor Castle.
The week kicks off with the Ceremony of Keys, which formally welcomes the Queen into town. It entails, quite literally, a set of keys being handed to the Queen by the Lord Provost. She then returns them, saying:
“I return these keys, being perfectly convinced that they cannot be placed in better hands than those of the Lord Provost and Councillors of my good City of Edinburgh.”
She also visited Greenfaulds High School where students receive their education in Gaelic, and watched a performance from the North Lanarkshire Council Pipe Band. The big headline thus far came the next day when she and Charles (known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland) marked the 20th anniversary of Scottish Parliament. The ceremony included speeches from The Queen, First Minister, and party leaders, as well as musical performances and readings. I’ve included the full text of her speech at the end of this post.
This reminds me that we haven’t yet seen Cruachan IV, my most favoritest (grammar intended, thank you) in all the land. He’s really more of a Balmoral fixture, but I have my eyes peeled anytime we’re in Scotland. If we do, you better believe there will be a full and separate post dedicated to him. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, well then please enjoy this, this, or this. Look, I love that pony, ok?
Moving on – Charles is in the midst of his own week of engagements, but in Wales. This is an annual occurrence, but this year is made a bit more special since 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales. (You may recall that same anniversary being celebrated by the Royal Family at a Buckingham Palace reception in March.)
The week kicked off with a regimental memorial service with The Queen’s Dragoon Guards at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.
One highlight from Monday was a visit to a call centre for the Prince of Wales Trust, which fields calls from people interested in the organization. Clarence House’s Twitter feed noted that the team manages “over 6000 inbound calls, 3000 outbound calls and 350 webchats each month,” which is, suffice to say, impressive.
Yesterday evening, the new official harpist for the Prince of Wales was announced – Alis Huws. I love it. V. on-brand for everyone.
Further engagements for the Queen and Charles will carry on throughout the week, so I may do a follow up post on Friday/Saturday. TBD.
The Queen’s Speech to Scottish Parliament:
Presiding Officer, First Minister, Members of the Scottish Parliament, The Duke of Rothesay and I are pleased to join you today in marking the Twentieth Anniversary of the Scottish Parliament.
We fondly remember that proud day, when new Members gathered in the Assembly Hall to celebrate Scotland’s first parliament in 300 years.
I have noted on previous occasions my great affection for Scotland, and the many happy and personal connections I enjoy with this wonderful country. It has been with great pleasure that over the years I have watched Scotland grow and prosper, and have been with you at each stage of your parliamentary life, including on landmark occasions such as today.
Twenty years on, this chamber continues to be at the centre of Scottish life, as an important forum to engage and unite diverse communities and also a home for passionate debate and discussion. Through new initiatives you continue to strive to be responsive and accountable to the people you serve, and to engage and involve those who might not otherwise participate in political debate.
It is perhaps worth reflecting that at the heart of the word “Parliament” lies its original meaning: a place to talk. I have no doubt that for most of these last twenty years this striking chamber has provided exactly that, a place to talk. But of course it must also be a place to listen — a place to hear views that inevitably may differ quite considerably, one from another — and a place to honour those views. In turn, this occasion today gives us all an opportunity to honour those who help turn talk into action, not just Members of the Scottish Parliament but all those behind the scenes — the many unseen, unsung individuals who are not afforded recognition by the nature of their role in Parliament, but who nonetheless join together to support parliamentary work in the service of others, and the success of the nation as a whole.
Presiding Officer, as we look to the future, it is my sincere hope that this Parliament, and all those who come to serve in it, will use the power of this chamber to celebrate those invisible pillars of our communities, and follow their example by working tirelessly to improve people’s lives, and strengthen the bonds of friendship and partnership both at home and abroad.
Today, with the echo of excitement and enthusiasm I encountered twenty years ago, I extend to you all my warmest good wishes on this special anniversary, for the continuing prosperity of the people of Scotland, and for those who represent them in this remarkable Parliament.