Holyrood Palace

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The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots, in 1128, and the abbey's position close to Edinburgh Castle meant that it was often visited by Scotland's monarchs, who were lodged in the guest house situated to the west of the abbey cloister. James IV constructed a new palace adjacent to the abbey in the early 16th century, and James V made additions to the palace, including the present north-west tower.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace was re-constructed in its present form between 1671 and 1679 to the Baroque design of the architect Sir William Bruce, forming four wings around a central courtyard, with a west front linking the 16th-century north-west tower with a matching south-west tower. The Queen's Gallery was formed within the shell of the former Holyrood Free Church and Duchess of Gordon's School built in the 1840s adjacent to the palace and opened to the public in 2002 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace

Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace

The ruined Augustinian abbey that is sited in the grounds was founded in 1128 at the order of King David I of Scotland. The name derives either from a legendary vision of the cross witnessed by David I, or from a relic of the True Cross known as the Holy Rood or Black Rood, and which had belonged to Queen Margaret, David's mother. As a royal foundation, and sited close to Edinburgh Castle, it became an important administrative centre.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace

In modern times, monarchs have spent at least one week every year formally holding court in the palace. The present Queen spends one week at Holyrood in summer, during which time investitures are held in the gallery, audiences are held in the morning room, and garden parties are hosted. While she is in residence, the Scottish variant of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is flown; at all other times the Royal Standard of Scotland is displayed.

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