For all you royal watchers out there, Edinburgh offers an unparalleled opportunity to follow in the footsteps of monarchs - here's a rundown to my top five regal sites in the city.
1) Birthroom of King James VI& I
The first monarch to jointly reign over Scotland and England, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots (Elizabeth's cousin). He acceded to the Scottish throne at just 13 months old, following his mother's forced abdication, and in 1603 acquired both England and Wales as the nearest successor to the childless Elizabeth, becoming both James VI of Scotland, and also James I of England. He was born in a small chamber adjacent to Mary's bedroom during one of her stays at Edinburgh Castle. This modest room in the former royal apartments is accessed as part of a general admission visit to Edinburgh Castle.
2) The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Holyrood is HRH the Queen's official residence in Scotland, and the Palace plays host to the royal family on all official and state visits. Every July Edinburgh celebrates a Royal Week, during which the Queen hosts a garden party at Holyrood, and attends a number of events across the city. The Palace is open for public visits whenever it isn't functioning as an official residence, so check with the venue online before planning a visit.
3) The Royal Yacht Britannia
Between 1954 and 1997, the Royal Yacht Britannia transported the Queen and her family around the globe on state visits. With exquisite decorations through its formal state rooms, the yacht resembles a floating palace, and was even intended to become the Queen's formal residence in the event of a nuclear war! Decommissioned in 1997, the yacht is now permanently moored as a visitor attraction at Ocean Terminal, on the coast to the north of Edinburgh. Visits include an audio guided tour through public and state rooms.
4) Canongate Kirk
In 2011 this modest kirk (church) on Edinburgh's Royal Mile was the venue for the wedding of the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Philips, to rugby player Mike Tindall. The kirk is also the church at the which the Queen worships during her visits to the city. Above the door you will see an emblem comprising a stag's antlers. These are the symbol of the Holyrood district, and the specific antlers above Canongate Kirk are sourced from a stag from the estate at the Queen's private residence of Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands.
5) The Royal Botanic Garden
Located a mile down the hill to the north of the city, through Edinburgh's New Town area, lies the 70 acres of the Royal Botanic Garden. Originally founded at Holyrood in 1670 for the cultivation of medical plants, the Gardens moved to its current site in Inverleith in 1820. Free to enter the garden is a relaxing and peaceful expanse of lawns and planted beds that makes for an idyllic wander on a summer's day. You can also visit the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden, planted in honour of HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
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