Royal Residences Of Scotland
The British Isles are rich with the history of royals and nobles from the earliest times, when the various fledgling territories were ruled by clans and kings and their devoted knights and warriors.
Some of the greatest myths and legends hail from the lands that would become England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. From the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of The Round Table, so beloved by historians and story lovers alike, to the Scottish folk legends that tell of ancient battles for kingdoms, fair maidens, honour and glory – Britain’s history is intertwined with that of royalty and the nobility.
Some of the most enduring – and endearing – legacies of Britain’s royal past can still be enjoyed today in its many magnificent royal residences. These beautiful castles, palaces and country estates are located all over the British Isles, with a great number of the most ancient and historic buildings still standing strong, many centuries after they served as homes and hideaways for the kings and queens of the past.
The four nations that make up the modern United Kingdom can still claim a proud inventory of royal residences, each of the countries represented in their distinctive contribution to the collection of regal structures.
For example, the great Caernarfon Castle of Wales – once the home of King Edward I – strikes an imposing figure in the picturesque and uniquely Welsh town of Caernarfon. Whereas the famous Buckingham Palace in London – the iconic home of modern-day royalty – strikes a different note, both in terms of architecture and national stature.
Similarly, the castles and regal residences of Ireland also possess their own unique charm and aesthetic, influenced by the surrounding towns and villages, as well as the Irish culture over the ages and the people who make up its history.
As each of the four British nations has left its mark on the buildings and structures of Britain’s royal history, Scotland can also claim a historic and captivating regal legacy, captured in brick and stone in the form of its remaining royal castles.
Here are two of the most famous and iconic royal residences of Scotland – home bases for the kings and queens of the United Kingdom, both in times past and in the present-day duties of modern royals.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is one of Scotland’s most beloved royal residences.
To this day, it functions as an important regal location in the modern monarchy, being the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, whenever she has royal duties to perform in the area.
While the modern role of Holyrood Palace assures its place within the important royal residences of the United Kingdom, its ancient history ensures its place in the rich and fascinating story of the evolution of British royalty throughout the ages.
The original site dates back almost a thousand years, and its location in the heart of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, no doubt influenced the key role it has played in the lives of many kings and queens over the centuries.
In more recent times, Holyrood Palace is significant as a royal residence, a home for the Queen when required, but it also has been a more permanent home for other members of the British Royal family. It was believed to have been a much-loved home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was one of the palace’s most famous royal residents.
The palace has been much transformed over the centuries, with influence from the culture of its Scottish location, as well the numerous kings and queens that have stayed at the residence, or have taken a special interest in its renovations or improvements.
Today, Holyrood Palace stands proudly on the famous Royal Mile of Edinburgh, secure in its place among the most important royal residences within Scotland and the entire United Kingdom.
The much-loved castle at Balmoral is another iconic Scottish royal residence.
Its baronial revival structure, with its picture-book architecture and picturesque turrets are reminiscent of fairy tales and children’s stories. The location is more rural than that of Holyrood Palace, as it stands proudly in the beautiful Balmoral Estate in Scotland’s Aberdeenshire region, in the Northeast of the country.
The present building, along with its status as a royal residence, are relatively new. The castle as it stands today was completed in 1856, and it has been used as a royal residence since 1852, though the original castle and grounds are much older.
Like many royal residences that were developed and extended by generations of kings and queens, the castle at Balmoral was once a royal hunting lodge. In this instance, it was frequented by King Robert II of Scotland in the 14th century.
Perhaps the most famous royal history of Balmoral is the role it played in the lives of Queen Victoria – the Queen of England during the 19th and 20th century.
Along with her husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria played a key role in the development of Balmoral into the royal residence it is today. It also held an important place in her affections, as it was a chosen residence of the queen during her period of mourning after the death of her beloved Prince Albert.
Today the castle remains a regular residence in the royal calendar, and the castle gardens are also open to the public between royal visits.
These two fascinating royal residences each have their own stories to tell of the rich histories of Scotland’s kings and queens, princes and princesses, as well as the many nobles and aristocrats that also played a part in royal life over the centuries.
Though the distinct characteristics and unique charm of each structure give each their own identity within the collection of British royal residences, they both maintain a strong Scottish presence that reflects the proud and passionate people that have populated Scotland’s history over the centuries.
From the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland’s capital, to the rural magnificence of Balmoral Castle, these two iconic structures are far more than mere homes and bases for travelling royals, they are key players in the history of Scotland and the story of the British royals throughout the ages.
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