The Crown of Scotland is kept at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and forms part of the Honours of Scotland, which is the oldest set of royal regalia in the United Kingdom. Unlike its English counterpart, St Edward’s Crown, the Crown of Scotland is the original crown used at Scottish coronations since James V wore the hastily repaired crown to the coronation of his second wife, the French Marie de Guise on 22 February 1538 at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh. It has been used to crown 4 Regnant monarchs.
The crown was first used at the coronation of James V (1512-1542) and Marie de Guise’s 9 month-old daughter at the Chapel Royal within the secure surroundings of Stirling Castle on 9 September 1543. The infant Mary Queen of Scots became Queen on the death of her father when she was just 6 days old. The significance of the date of her crowning was not lost on the congregation as it marked the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden when Mary’s own grandfather, James IV was killed and the Scottish army lost 10,000 men at the hands of the English.
In a strange twist of fate the crown was also required to crown Mary Queen of Scots’ 1 year old son, James VI when she was forced by the Scottish nobles to abdicate her own sovereignty in favour of her child. His coronation also took place at Stirling, but this time at the Church of Holy Rude on 24 July 1567.
The last monarch to be crowned King of Scotland was surprisingly Charles II of England. Charles Stuart was the eldest son of Charles I of England and automatically inherited the Kingdom of England on the execution of his father for Treason in January 1649. However by this time England had been proclaimed a republic, and so the 19 year-old Charles Stuart was forced into exile. He escaped to Scotland where the Scottish Parliament proclaimed him King just 6 days after his father’s beheading. He was duly crowned with the Crown of Scotland at the ancient coronation site of Scone Palace in Perthshire on 1 January 1651.
The crown was last used on 2 July 2016 in a ceremony based on the ancient custom known as The Riding of Parliament. On the opening of the Fifth Scottish Parliament, the Honours of Scotland, including the Crown of Scotland were passed into the custody of the Queen’s representative, the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon at Edinburgh Castle. He then moved in procession down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament accompanied by a Police escort. To add to sense the of occasion this elaborate ceremonial takes place to a musical accompaniment provided by Pipes and Drums of 3 Scots.
Once the Honours arrived at Queensbury House, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Officers of Arms and the Royal Company of Archers ensure they were presented to Her Majesty. On completion of the presentation the session was officially opened.
Click the link below to get a closer look at the composition of this magnificent 500 year-old crown.
Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots
All images via Wikicommons