In a regal display of Scottish tradition and grandeur, King Charles III commenced his inaugural Scottish Week on Monday, July 3, 2023. Embracing the cultural heritage of the northern nation, the sovereign took up residence at Holyrood Palace, where he will be based during his visits to various historic shires. The highly-anticipated week began with a symbolic gesture, as King Charles III donned a striking tartan kilt for the traditional key handover ceremony.
A Celebrated Tradition: Holyrood Week
Every year, at the onset of summer, the British monarch embarks on a week-long sojourn at Holyrood Palace, Scotland’s equivalent of Buckingham Palace. Dubbed Holyrood Week, this royal tradition allows the sovereign to immerse themselves in Scottish affairs and engage in visits across the picturesque land. Marking the start of King Charles III’s reign, the much-anticipated Holyrood Week commenced on Monday, July 3, 2023.
Throughout the week, King Charles III will preside over one of the four official garden parties held each year. Additionally, on Wednesday, the monarch will partake in a momentous thanksgiving ceremony at St. Giles Cathedral—an auspicious event often regarded as the “Scottish coronation” for the King.
Majestic Moments: Key Ceremony at Holyrood Palace
On Monday, King Charles III embarked on a captivating itinerary, commencing with a visit to Kinneil House in Bo’ness before proceeding to the iconic Holyrood Palace nestled in the heart of Edinburgh, opposite the revered Scottish Parliament. As per age-old customs, a key ceremony was held to symbolically entrust the keys of Edinburgh to the royal occupant of the palace. While this marks King Charles III’s first Holyrood Week, it is not his maiden key ceremony, having participated in a similar event during his mother’s funeral ceremonies in September 2022.
The Official Welcome: Ceremony of the Keys at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Amidst an awe-inspiring display, the Royal Company of Archers formed an honorary guard while the Lord Provost of Edinburgh presented the keys atop a cushion. Addressing the King, he warmly declared, “We welcome Your Majesty to the capital of your ancient and hereditary kingdom of Scotland and offer for your gracious acceptance the keys to the good city of Edinburgh.” Remaining true to tradition, King Charles III graciously handed over the keys to the chosen representatives of Edinburgh, stating, “I return these keys, being fully satisfied that they cannot be placed in better hands than those of the Lord Provost and the councilors of my good town of Edinburgh.”
The Royal Company of Archers, known for their ceremonial role as the sovereign’s protectors in Scotland, proudly accompanied King Charles III during the ceremony. The King’s choice of attire reflected his reverence for Scottish heritage, as he sported a kilt crafted from his favored tartan—the “Prince Charles Edward Stuart” tartan. Similar to the renowned Royal Stewart tartan famously worn by Queen Elizabeth II, this variation featured narrower red checks. Its name pays tribute to the young Scottish Jacobite prince who once aspired to claim the Scottish throne.
Holyrood Palace boasts a storied history intertwined with monarchs bearing the name Charles. In 1633, Charles I, King of England and Scotland, underwent a momentous Scottish coronation within the palace’s walls, a ceremony that triggered a series of events culminating in a civil war amidst Presbyterian territories. Ultimately, the monarch was executed, and the palace suffered damage. Years later, during the monarchy’s restoration, it was King
Charles II who spearheaded the castle’s restoration efforts. Adding another chapter to the palace’s legacy, Prince Charles, now King Charles III, made his first notable public engagement at Holyrood Palace in June 1965 when, at the tender age of 16, he hosted a memorable meeting with hundreds of enthusiastic students.
As Scottish Week continues to unfold, the public eagerly awaits the monarch’s presence at various engagements and revels in the blend of ancient traditions and modern royal charisma emanating from King Charles III and his beloved Holyrood Palace.
Photos credits: Bestimage