Countries, UK

Royal Edinburgh

The eyes of the world will be on Royal Edinburgh over these days with the Queen to lie in state before her procession down to London.

All of which will shine a light on its most historic street, the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile, or the High Street, as the Edinburgh folk know it, climbs from the monarch’s Official Residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

To Edinburgh Castle, the city’s fortress and Scotland’s stronghold for 1500 years.

Hooray for Holyrood

Monstrous Regiment? Mary and Darnley

For those of you who don’t know about these things you’re forgiven.

But Holyroodhouse precedes British rulers and was the royal household to the Scottish monarchs.

The most famous of whom is Mary, Queen of Scots who has horrible history here.

When allies of her husband, Henry, Lord Darnley burst in on her chamber to drag her private secretary David Rizzio out and murder him.

And opportunistic guides will tell trusting tourists that the red paint on the stairs is his blood.

Jenny from the block

Throwing her weight about: Jenny Geddes

Halfway up the Royal Mile is St Giles Cathedral where the Royal Family will hold a vigil for their matriarch.

And her subjects (you and me by the way) will get to file past her and pay our respects.

Chief among the 12th century kirk’s (that’s a Scots church) claims to fame is the Scottish Protestant Reformation kicked off here.

When a commoner member of the congregation, Jenny Geddes, launched her stool at the preacher.

His crime was to introduce the King’s Prayer Book which was a bit too Catholic for Scots’ tastes.

That king? Charles I who lost his head over religion.

So, maybe his namesake will keep his prayers to himself.

Mile’s better

Oor Fergie: Robert Fergusson

The Royal Mile is still very much a functioning thoroughfare today just as it was back in Mary’s day.

The Scottish Parliament sits again, now at the foot of the Mile, opposite Holyrood Palace.

Where the Queen, and now the King, can keep an eye on that uppity First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

All across from the majestic Arthur’s Seat, the shelf remains of an ancient volcano, which gives Holyrood Park its verdant lushness.

Follow the road up and on your right you’ll see the dandy wee (that’s Scottish for short) figure of Robert Fergusson at the Canongate.

Where there’s a secluded gardens to ponder his place in literary history as Robert Burns’ muse.

Opportunity Knox

Hard Knox: David Tennant as Knox

In truth, you can’t go more than a couple of steps up the Royal Mile without bumping into royal history.

John Knox’s House celebrates the great firebrand of the Protestant Reformation who railed against Catholic Mary.

And penned the blockbuster The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

All of which questioned whether a woman should be monarch…

We suspect Knox would have ended up wearing the trumpet if he lived in Elizabeth’s day.

Hang about

No place to Hyde: Dr Jekyll and Master Hyde

The Royal Mile, of course, has secular charms too with Mary King’s Close a recreated alleyway from the Black Death.

And the Heart of Midlothian crest where ne’er-do-wells were hanged, most famously of all Deacon Brodie.

In the picture: The Royal award-winning Mrs M

The real-life inspiration for Dr Jekyll & Master Hyde, the history of which you can read after a pint of heavy (Scots beer) in Deacon Brodie’s Tavern.

Phew, and you’ve only got halfway before you get to the Camera Obscura, The Scotch Whisky Experience and The Witchery restaurant.

Leave a few hours though to look around Edinburgh Castle at the top.

Among them St Margaret’s Chapel, named for a Scottish queen, and the Stone of Destiny, upon which kings and queens of Scots were crowned.

Stone me


Here’s to us: Charles and Camilla

And which was confiscated by the English only being given back back after 700 years.

But allowed to be used again in Westminster at the times of coronation and for King Charles III.

All to ponder as all eyes fix on Royal Edinburgh over these days.

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