King Charles III’s visit to Scotland

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King Charles III’s coronation took place on 6 May 2023. After a coronation, it is custom for a monarch to visit Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. King Charles and Queen Camilla will be visiting Scotland during the first week of July 2023. This blog sets out what events will take place during their visit.

What will happen during the King’s visit?

Wednesday 5 July 2023 has been designated as a key day for the visit, with the Scottish Government publishing plans for activities to take place that day. According to First Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP:

Scotland will welcome the new King and Queen in July with a series of events to mark the Coronation. A People’s Procession, a Royal Procession, a National Service of Thanksgiving and a Gun Salute will take place in Edinburgh.

This blog focusses on events on 5 July 2023. However, other events, including a garden party at the King’s official residence in Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, will be happening through the first week of July.

The King and Queen will be accompanied on their visit by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, known as the ‘Prince and Princess of Wales’ when elsewhere in the UK and overseas. The presence of other members of the Royal Family has not been confirmed as at the date of publication of this blog.

Processions to St Giles’ Cathedral

There will be two processions to St Giles’ Cathedral, where a National Service of Thanksgiving will be held: A People’s Procession from Edinburgh Castle and a Royal Procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

According to the Scottish Government, the People’s Procession will involve around 100 people “representing different aspects of Scottish life”, including a number of charities and civil societies. The People’s Procession will collect the Honours of Scotland from Edinburgh Castle, which will later be presented to the King and Queen at the National Service of Thanksgiving.

The People’s Procession will be led by Shetland pony, Corporal Cruachan IV, the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s mascot. The People’s Procession will also be escorted by:

  • the Royal Company of Archers, the King’s Body Guard for Scotland
  • a Guard of Honour formed by contingents of the Royal Navy, the Army, and Royal Air Force.

The Royal Procession, featuring the King and Queen, will travel from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral. The Royal Marine Band Scotland and the Pipes, Drums and Bugles of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland will provide musical accompaniment to the Royal Procession. The public will be able to view both processions along the Royal Mile.

National Service of Thanksgiving

The National Service of Thanksgiving will be held at St Giles’ Cathedral. In the run-up to the King’s coronation, the First Minister was reported as saying that the service will be similar to that held for Queen Elizabeth II three weeks after her coronation in 1953.

As during the service for Queen Elizabeth II, the National Service of Thanksgiving will see the King and Queen be presented with the Honours of Scotland. The Honours are the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles, dating from the late 15th and early 16th century. They consist of a crown, a sceptre, and a sword. The Honours are usually on display at Edinburgh Castle.

The Royal Household’s website contains further information about the history of the Honours.

The Honours were used together at the coronations of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543, James VI in 1567, Charles I in 1633, and Charles II in 1651. The Crown of Scotland is now used at each opening of the Scottish Parliament. The Honours will be further documented and conserved by Historic Environment Scotland over the summer and autumn of 2023.

Along with the Honours, the Scottish Government has also confirmed that the Stone of Destiny will be present in St Giles’ Cathedral during the National Service of Thanksgiving. It was used during the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey and transported back to Edinburgh afterwards. The Duke of Edinburgh, a title given by the King to Prince Edward in March 2023, attended a Stone of Destiny reception at Edinburgh Castle on 17 May 2023.

In a statement after the coronation, the First Minister said that the Scottish Government was planning to present the King and Queen with coronation gifts on behalf of the people of Scotland during their visit. However, no further information about the gifts or when they will be presented has been released by the date of publication. The Scottish Government has stated that an order of service will be published at a later date.

At the end of the service, a 21-gun salute will fire from Edinburgh Castle. In addition, there will be a flypast by the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, following the event. The Royal Procession will then travel back to Holyroodhouse.

Annie Bosse, SPICe Research

St Giles Cathedral” by vgm8383 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.