Edinburgh Castle Pt 3 – The Royal Palace and Scottish Crown Jewels

The Laich Hall

Edinburgh Castle Pt 3 - The Royal Palace and Scottish Crown Jewels

If there’s one part of the castle that shouldn’t be missed it has to be the Royal Palace and the Scottish Crown Jewels.

The Palace was at the heart of the royal castle from the 11th to the early 17th centuries and probably an extension to David’s Tower.

On the ground floor, the most important event to take place at the Palace occurred on 19th June 1566 when Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to a son who became King James VI of Scotland after her abdication thirteen months later.

Mary and her husband Lord Darnley were living at Holyrood when rumours circulated that the father of her unborn child was David Rizzio, her Private Secretary. Shortly afterwards Rizzio was murdered at Holyrood and Darnley was the chief suspect. To make matters worse Mary was catholic and the country was now protestant and so she came to the safe haven of the castle to give birth to the future King James VI and I of England. The birth took place in a small room next to her own chamber.

James became King of England in 1603 and left Edinburgh for London. The Palace became neglected, but for a solitary return in 1617 to celebrate 50 years on the Scottish throne, the place had a facelift. The birth chamber was re-decorated (which still shows the same decorations today) and new rooms were added including the Laich Hall.

Queen Mary's Chamber

On the first-floor new apartments for the King and Queen were built as was the Crown Room to safeguard the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels).

For obvious reasons photography isn’t allowed in the Crown Room but at centre stage is the Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State with the Stone of Destiny beside them.

These Crown Jewels date from around 1494 to1540 and were first used together for the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots in September 1543.

They were whisked away elsewhere during Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth period and returned, but after the Union with England they became forgotten about until 1818 when Sir Walter Scott was given permission to enter the Crown Room and unlock the chest that they were thought to be in. Amazingly they were still there after 111 years of obscurity.

The Stone of Destiny has also had a remarkable history. This stone was the original throne that the early Kings of Scotland were crowned on at Scone near Perth. In the Wars of Independence King Edward I of England confiscated it and took it down to London where it was placed under the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. In 1996 on the 600th anniversary of its removal it was returned to Scotland and put on display next to the Crown Jewels. The only time that it will be moved is when there’s another coronation.

Coat of Arms above the fireplace
Coat of Arms above the fireplace

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