Scotland held a special place in her heart
Throughout her long life it was no secret that Scotland was one of Queen Elizabeth's favourite places to spend time with her family. Her mother was from a Scottish clan who lived at Glamis Castle in Angus, and Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside was one of the few places she could truly relax. Indeed, she often spoke of her 'affection' for the country and its people. It seemed only fitting that the UK's longest serving monarch spent her final days in Balmoral. Here, we look at some of the places that featured in her life, as well as her death.
The Queen's love of her home in Balmoral in Royal Deeside was well known. She spent almost every summer there, usually with her husband Philip and close family. She had holidayed at the beautiful 50,000-acre country estate in Aberdeenshire for most of her life - from visiting with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary as a small child, to the final months of her life. Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British Royal Family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were bought from the Farquharson family by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. The house was then found to be too small and the current Balmoral Castle was commissioned. The castle itself is an example of Scottish baronial architecture, and is classified by Historic Environment Scotland as a category A listed building. The new castle was completed in 1856 and the old castle demolished shortly afterwards. It remains private property of the Queen and is not part of the Crown Estate. Balmoral Castle is open to the public from April to July each year. Group visits can sometimes be arranged outside of that period if the Royal family are not in residence. It is however currently closed to all visitors until further notice.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, on 16 April, 1953 by the Queen. You can see this historic occasion in action here. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays. For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador generating billions of pounds in trade deals. For the Royal Family and 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home. Today, Britannia is a five-star visitor attraction and exclusive evening events venue in Edinburgh. Why not stay at Fingal, sister ship of Royal Yacht Britannia, who have packages which include tickets to visit Royal Yacht Britannia.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
This is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, it has served as the principal royal residence in Scotland since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining. The Queen traditionally spent one week in residence at Holyroodhouse at the beginning of each summer, where she carried 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. Following her death at Balmoral, an official convoy transported the Queen's coffin here where it received a guard of honour by the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland (Royal Company of Archers) as it entered the palace. The Queen's coffin remained in the Throne Room overnight where a vigil was kept by Her Majesty's Chaplains in Scotland, overseen by the Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland, the Very Rev Prof David Fergusson.
St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, witnessed one of the most memorable events in its almost 900-year history with a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the late Queen Elizabeth, the first reigning monarch to die in Scotland since James V in 1542. The service marked the end of a long association between St Giles' and Queen Elizabeth, which dates back to the earliest days of her reign. Her Majesty first attended St Giles' as monarch in 1953 for a Service of Thanksgiving just three weeks after her coronation. She was blessed by the Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and the Moderator of the General Assembly and presented with the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels. The occasion was depicted by the artist Sir Stanley Cursiter in a painting which now hangs in Holyrood Palace.
Luxury Scotland hotels in Edinburgh
If you're planning a visit to Edinburgh, why not stay at one of our three wonderful Luxury Scotland hotels. The Dunstane Houses is a family run Victorian Townhouse in the West End, The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa offers modern luxury and a top floor spa in the heart of the city centre while the one-of-a-kind Fingal is Scotland's only luxury floating hotel in the city's bustling Port of Leith and is part of the prestigious Royal Yacht Britannia collection.