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The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh and the Lothians

Location: The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8DX (map and directions)

As the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, The Palace of Holyroodhouse, or Holyrood Palace, has served as the principal residence of the kings and queens of Scotland since the 15th century. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week a year at Holyrood at the start of each summer, before spending two months at Balmoral Castle.

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh & The Lothians copyright David Monniaux
Holyrood Palace © David Monniaux

History of Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace sits at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle and the baroque palace played a key role in the history of Scotland. Holyrood Palace is the site where James II was born in 1430, and also where he was crowned, married and laid to rest. Mary Queen of Scots was married here and also witnessed the brutal killing of her secretary by her second husband. Holyroodhouse was also the headquarters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 Jacobite uprising.

Holyrood Palace has undergone countless additions, restorations and refurbishments throughout its history. The Palace in its current form is in the shape of a quadrangle and includes a chapel, The Queen’s Gallery, the royal apartments, and the Great Hall, along with the ruined Holyrood Abbey on the grounds.

Today the palace is used as the setting for official royal entertaining. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh entertain near to 8,000 guests during Holyrood Week, which includes the Queen’s birthday celebrations on the 3rd Saturday of June each year. The entertainment is a tradition that has its roots in times when King George V and Queen Mary held the first garden party in the grounds of Holyroodhouse.

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh & The Lothians copyright David Monniaux
Palace of Holyroodhouse © Oliver Bonjoch

Historic Scotland is responsible for Holyrood Abbey, which is located within the grounds of Holyrood Palace, built in 1128 at the order of King David I of Scotland.

Map and directions

The palace is open to the public daily when a member of the Royal Family is not in residence.

View Palace of Holyrood House in a larger map

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