Holyrood marks 200th year since George IV visit

THE Palace of Holyroodhouse is marking this week’s 200th anniversary of the visit by King George IV to Scotland with a series of events.

The Royal Collection Trust’s (RCT’s) curators are holding a study morning at the palace today, including a tour of the rooms used by the king during his visit.

Tomorrow, an hour-long talk will explore the friendship between the monarch and writer Sir Walter Scott, who organised his visit to Edinburgh in 1822.

Mark Kirkham, the Edinburgh Sketcher, will lead a drawing tour around the palace on Friday.

On Saturday, families visiting the palace will be offered free talks and activities.

“August marks the 200th anniversary of George IV’s first visit to Scotland – the first time a reigning monarch had visited Scotland in almost two centuries,” explained the RCT, which cares for the palace.

“George IV came to the throne in 1820 and, two years later, was encouraged by government ministers to visit Scotland, partly in the hope of calming unrest.

“The visit was masterminded and stage-managed by the author Sir Walter Scott, who set out to win the affections of the Scots away from radical reform by presenting George IV as a new Jacobite king.

“Scott planned a series of spectacular ceremonies, processions, and receptions, all accompanied by splendid pageantry.

“The king landed at Leith on 15 August 1822 and processed through Edinburgh in an open carriage, cheered by thousands of people who lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the new monarch.

“On arrival at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the king took part in the ‘Ceremony of the Keys’ – a scene famously captured by the Scottish artist Sir David Wilkie.

“The painting, which can be seen during a visit to the palace, shows Scott overseeing the ceremony and a chorus of enthusiastic spectators clambering over every part of the palace to get a view of the king.”

The RCT added: “Scott encouraged both the king and members of the Scottish nobility to wear tartan during the festivities, with the king wearing full Highland dress to his first levee at the palace on 17 August.

“Highland dress had been prohibited as everyday wear in Scotland after the Jacobite uprising of 1745, but Scott’s instructions encouraged the public to see the wearing of kilts as not just legal again, but also fashionable, and the occasion was pivotal in establishing the kilt as the national dress of Scotland.

“A painting of George IV in his Highland dress, also by Sir David Wilkie, hangs in the dining room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to this day.”

Earlier this week, the Museum of Edinburgh revealed it had rediscovered a cockade from the visit.

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s news pages.

Plus, don’t miss our heritage feature about author Alistair MacLean in the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.