The Palace of Holyroodhouse sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile, right next to Holyrood parliament (and is not to be confused with it). It is the major Royal Palace in Edinburgh. It is a tourist destination and it does a fairly good job of educating and remembering the Monarchy of the past.
As for the Monarchy of the present – it has a very big garden area where, in July, the Queen holds her annual Garden Party – attended by several thousand invited people (we've read reports of up to 8,000 people). These are invited from all parts of Scottish society.
Lots of different people do get invited, although many of the same people – elected officials, all the Councillors throughout Scotland, MSPs – always get the same invite each year.
The Garden Party is also the only public Royal event which it holds each year.
It is the only means by which some people in Scotland might participate in celebrating the Monarchy in an official, publicly-organised way.
As a venue for Royal events – to which the general public can attend – it is heavily under-utilised.
Indeed, with the exception of the Queen's Garden Party it is not utilised at all for public Royal events – even though it is situated perfectly in the centre of Edinburgh.
In that regard, it is a completely wasted resource.
Yet it is a potentially Great British resource which can boost the Monarchy in Scotland – in a very inclusive public way.
We were first alerted to the Palace of Holyroodhouse's limited ability back in 2012.
Remember the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, on 3 June that year?
It was a rainy day in London, but it was a beautiful day in Edinburgh. On that day, Holyroodhouse "screened" the Pageant. We went along. But no effort had gone into it. They didn't advertise it as a serious event, which is just as well.
It was, literally, just a 36" telly in the courtyard, just off the public pavement, not even in the Palace grounds.
It was also impossible to see the telly because the sun was glaring directly into it. There was about 50 people sitting about, straining their eyes. But if effort had been put into doing it properly, they could have had 5,000 people in the grounds of the Palace, with giant screens, a minor Royal in attendance, and plenty of fizz and sandwiches.
It would have ensured that the Thames Pageant, the high point of those particular celebrations, would have had a physical presence elsewhere in the UK. It would have dispersed the London-centric feel of that particular event, and made it more of a wider British event.
We noticed its inability to take advantage of Royal events again back at the time of the Queen's 90th Birthday (21 April 2016), which also saw the official Birthday Party in London on Saturday 11 June that year.
What did Holyroodhouse do for either of these two dates?
The answer is absolutely nothing! (We remember checking at the time and there was apparently a small 2-hour private guided tour event on 14 June!)
Such a wasted opportunity!
It is a fact that many people in Scotland support the Monarchy. Many of us would have wanted something official that we could have attended, or had the chance to attend, to celebrate the Queen's 90th.
Many of us also want to know that if we can't get to it, at least there is something official, happening somewhere in Scotland, which other people are going to.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, located in the centre of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the ideal place for these things to happen.
God Willing, it will be an ideal venue, for the Queen's 95th in 2021.
HERE'S WHAT SHOULD BE DONE FOR HER MAJESTY'S 95th
Take the example of Trooping the Colour. It is every year in June. This is the Queen's "official" birthday. The idea is that even though the Monarch's birthday falls at another time of year, an "official" birthday in June – when the weather is (usually) going to be better – is a suitable time for a public celebration.
To attend Trooping the Colour, you can apply by ballot, and if you're lucky, you pay up to £40 for a ticket.
Attendance at the Queen's 90th Birthday Events in Windsor on 12-15 May 2016 was also by ballot. It was well attended. 25,000 tickets for the arena show sold out soon after they went on sale, and 5,000 free tickets to watch the show on giant screens next to Windsor Castle were quickly claimed!
All very democratic!
Holyroodhouse could have a Queen's 95th Birthday Party in its grounds, perhaps on the same Saturday as Trooping the Colour on 12 June 2021, or even on 24 April, the Saturday after her actual birthday on the 21st.
People could apply by ballot, which is then randomly chosen (like Trooping the Colour) or it could be first-come, first-served. Costs of the event could be largely covered by the price of the ticket.
In 2021, we could see several thousand people each paying for a ticket. There could be giant screens, family entertainment, perhaps a military display of some kind, a minor Royal in attendance.
What is the downside? Elements of the media, and republican politicians will complain as usual about the quote/unquote "cost", but that could be off-set by the price of the tickets. Security concerns? It is highly unlikely anything would happen if people are searched going in, as they are everywhere these days. If a random person "kicked off", they would be swiftly removed. A very small handful of nutters might stand outside with an anti-monarchy banner. So what? Who cares about them?
Basically there is no downside.
Something similar could be done in Wales, perhaps in the grounds of Cardiff Castle, or Caernarfon Castle; and in Northern Ireland, perhaps at Hillsborough Castle.
The thing is: people will go to these things. And they will pay for them! People want to be involved, and anything with the huge appeal of the British Monarchy will be over-subscribed! A buzz can definitely be created around such events.
People want to show support for the Monarchy, and if people see something official is being arranged, it will be sold-out very quickly.
Importantly, this sort of event would help to disperse the London-centric feel of many of the events around the Monarchy. It would Spread the Love around a bit.
Pic: When the Queen and Prince Philip came to Glasgow on 4 July 2012 as part of her Jubilee Celebrations, the streets around George Square were packed.
WHAT'S STOPPING THIS?
We are presuming that the people in control of Holyroodhouse – the Royal Collection Trust – would probably say that, "It's not our remit to do that sort of thing. We're only here to look after the artefacts, and give guided tours." And that's possibly quite correct.
It is also quite possible that, right now, Holyroodhouse, and its management, does not even have the ability to do this, even if it wanted to.
So it is going to need help. That should be no problem. There are plenty of highly-competent Event Companies which would love to tender for the contract!
So what's the first step?
Someone needs to be given the remit: "Organiser of Public Events to Celebrate the Monarchy in the Grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse."
Then...things can start to move...
Other Events which Holyroodhouse could host include:
- A public event (by ballot or invitation) on the Occasion of the State Opening of the British Parliament. This would help to emphasise the centrality of Westminster to the devolution situation, and it would help to educate about the overall British political system in relation to the devolved Executives.
- An annual public event celebrating the Heir to the Throne's birthday.
These things are limited only by our imagination.
Bottom line: Let's make more use of this fantastic resource to promote the British Monarchy of today; and let's make more use of the other Royal Residences in Wales and Northern Ireland so we can involve all 4 corners of the United Kingdom in major Royal events.
The only question now is, who is going to take this forward?
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