Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Holyrood Palace by Fiona Bruce

Continuing her series on Royal Palaces, Fiona Bruce arrived at Holyrood on BBC1 last night. There were lots of dreamy shots of the palace, including the side on view from high up on the crags that forms the cover of my novel The Stuart Agenda. Holyrood Palace is a Stuart construct and Fiona concentrated on the two most heroic and tragic figures in the dynasty, Mary Queen of Scots and her desendent, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Bonnie Prince Charlie of later Scottish folklore.
     Mary's details were well presented. After the death of her father she went to France with her mother, Mary of Guise, to escape the clutches of Henry VIII of England, who wanted her to marry his son. In France, she married the Dauphin when she was fifteen but within three years he was dead and she returned to Scotland to take up her crown there, still just eighteen years old. She fared little better in Scotland with a disastrous marriage to the unsuitable Lord Darnley who orchestrated the murder of her Italian servant David Rizzio, before being murdered himself. Mary then married the chief suspect, The Earl of Bothwell, finally ruining her flagging reputation to the point where she had to flee Scotland and throw herself on the mercy of her cousin, Elisabeth of England, setting in motion the intrigues that led to her death on the scaffold in 1587, aged 44.
     Bonnie Prince Charlie also got a good airing. Raising the clans at Glenfinnan in 1745 he quickly took Edinburgh and proclaimed his father King, but must have felt like one himself, sleeping in the Angel Bed in Holyrood Palace. After a series of victories he was forced by his own side to turn back at Derby, leading inexorably to the debacle at Culloden against the Duke of Cumberland's army. The Highlands then suffered  horribly at the hands of the Hanoverians who were determined to finish off the Jacobite culture.
     Reconcilliation finally came in the shape of George IV in 1822. He visited the palace, impecably dressed in a special outfit of Royal Stuart tartan, signifying his Kingship of Scotland.
     Fiona didn't ask whether we might ever see a Stuart in Holyrood Palace again. For the answer to that you need to read The Stuart Agenda.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder at willowmoonpublishing.com, Barnes and Noble and amazon.com

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