European Royalty: Scotland

Figure 1.--.

Scottish monarchs are not as well known as English monarchs. And much of the history of the Scottish monarchy is an effort to remain independent from England. The most importnt Scottish king is Robert the Bruce who played a critical role in Scottish independence. Although not an important monarch in her own right, Mary Queen of Scotts is also a well known Scottish royal. Gicen the history between the two countries, it is somewhat surprising that it was a Scottish royal that became king of England rather than an English royal becoming king of Scotland. Mary's son James inherited the English crown as James I after the death of Elizabeth, England's Virgin Queen. Scotland has not had its own monarch since the 16th Century. James was the last Scottish monarch. British monarchs who at times brutally supressed Scottish national sentiment, have since Queen Victoria dressed in kilts and tried to appeal to the Scotts.

Scottish Monarchs

The Scottish monarchy has a rather complicated history. For many years as kingdoms began to form in England to the south after the Anglo-Saxon invasions, Scotland was the domin of a number of local rulers with often small territories and peoples. There was for a long period no cottish national identity. A single monach able to control most of what is modern Scotland finally emerged (12th century). The Scottish crown became hotly contested (13th century). There was both domestic challenges as well as English invasions threatening the continued existence of an independent Scotland. Scotland was able to remain independent ans in part because of the struggle for indeoendence from England, a sence of Scottish nationhood developed. As a stable monarchical succession developed, the Stuart dynasty emerged. We have only begun to develop information on Scottish monarchs. Some are legegadary figures like King Robert the Bruce. The most famous is perhaps Mary Queen of Scotts. Her son was the last destictively Scottish monarch, James VI, but she founded a line of English monarchs--the Stuarts.

English Monarchs

When King James VI of Scotland inherited the English crown on the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 and became King James I of England. The crowns, however, were not at the time fused. He was the king of England and the king of Scotland, but not yet a British king. The Stewarts were perhaps the most controversial of all English royal dynasties. Their rule brought about the most significant constitutional crisis in English history and the Civil War. The crowns of Scotland and England were finally combined in 1707 with the Act of Union.


British soverigns for two centuries proceeded to supress Scottish national aspirations. These policies were pursued by Stewart and Georgian kings as well as Cromwell and the parlimentarians. These policies reached a peak in 1746 with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culoden. Charles was the heir to the Scotish throne, but a separate Scottish monarchy no lionger existed. At any rate, the prize he was seeking was the British throne. The English proceeded to brutally supress the Higland clans, even outlawing the kilt and bagpipes. This policy continued through the Georgian era and the 18th Century.

Scotland courted

The policy of supression did not change until the ascent of Queen Victoria to British throne in 1835. The young queen was enamored by the lore of Scotland which was being popularized by Englisg and Scottish poets and authors. Appealing to the Scotts also made good political sence for the monarchy. As a result, beginning with Victoria's sons, British princes were often dressed in kilts, the symbol of Scottish nationality. Prince Albert even purchased a new estate in Scotland for Victoria--Balmoral. Successive generations of British princes would spend part of their childhood roming around the grounds at Balmoral outfitted in kilts. The current royal princes, William and Harry, are the first to depart from the tradition set by Queen Victoria. The boys clearly do not like to wear kilts one little bit. They have very rarely been seen outfitted in kilts.


The United Kingdom is in the process of devolution, returning power to its constituent parts. Scotland for the first time in centuries is to have its own parliament. Interestingly, just as the current generation of royals wants nothing to do with wearing kilts, their Grandmother Queen Elizabeth has decided that the royal family needs to establish closer ties with Scotland. Queen Elizabeth wants her family to devote more time and attention to Scotland and has asked her advisers to draw up plans to give the royals a higher profile in the country. One immediate result of the new policy will be more official engagements to be carried out by the royal family this year, but there will be a long-term policy as well. The Queen is determined to emphasise the continuity of a monarchy serving the whole of the United Kingdom as political power is devolved. Both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend the opening of the Scottish parliament on July 1 and she will spend longer than usual at Holyroodhouse, her official Edinburgh residence, this year. The Queen's advisors are preparing to examine a fresh Scottish strategy. The group, named the Way Ahead Group, keeps royal policy under review and looks at ways in which the family can improve its image in Scotland and operate more effectively. The Way Ahead discussion will examine the workload of the royals in Scotland and look at how the diary of engagements can be expanded. It is likely that the Queen and Prince Philip will carry out some new "themed" visits which are already being tried in London. The Prince of Whales will spend a week at Holyroodhouse in June 1999 ahead of the opening of parliament. Charles surprised politicians in 1998 by holding a meeting with Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National party, in an unprecedented attempt to sound out a nationalist opposition group. The meeting was seen as evidence of growing concern within royal circles at the threat posed to the monarchy by the rise of Scottish nationalism. It is likely that the Way Ahead group will look at Charles's private wish to give Balmoral to the nation. It is known that at his accession, Charles would like to hand over Balmoral to the National Trust for Scotland as part of a strategy to create a simplified monarchy. Such a move would be seen as a personal sacrifice by the prince, whose favourite childhood memories are of the 55,000-acre estate in the southern Cairngorms. Some of the prince's friends have indicated that he could come to an arrangement whereby he would retain use of Balmoral Castle from time to time, but for the rest of the year the estate would be open to the public. The prince is aware that foreign ownership and the management of land in Scotland have again become thorny subjects and are expected to be issues of debate in the new parliament. The Queen wants to remind Scots that her second son, the Duke of York, has the additional title of Earl of Inverness. Charles also holds Scottish titles, including Duke of Rothesay and Lord of the Isles. Details of the opening of parliament will not be worked out until after the election in May. A palace insider, however, said there would be three speeches at the July ceremony. One will be by the Queen, another by the first minister of the parliament, and a third by the presiding officer (the speaker. The all-party consultative steering group on the Scottish parliament will make final recommendations to Buckingham Palace once the political makeup of the new Scottish Parliament is known.

British Monarchs

Since Queen Victoria, British royals have worn kilts. For some kilts were only one of many outfits. For some kilts and sailor suits were virtually the only outfits worn. The kilt has continued as an important garment for the royal princes until the currebt generation, William and Harry who apparently refuse to wear kilts.
Edward VII: Edward VII was born in 1841 an he was the first British royal to be outfitted in kilts. His mother loved Scotland and during trips to Balmoral, Edward and his brothers would be duely outfitted in kilts. I am not sure what Edward thoughtb about the kilt, but he was occadionally pictured in one as an adult.
George V: George V was born in 1865. He and his older brother wore many different outfits as a boy. One of those was a kilt, especially when they went to Balmoral. This may in part be because their Grandmother Queen Victoria liked to see her grandsons outfitted in kilts.
Edward VIII: Edward VIII was born in 1894. His father saw the kilt and sailor suit as the only sutable clothes for boys. Despite this rather restricive wardrobe, his father took a great interest in the dress of his sons, giving then very specific instructions about what to wear when. This rather restrictive range of clothing was probably one factor turning him into a clothes horse as an adult.
George VI: George was born in 1985. He like his brother was only dressed in kilts and sailor suits as a boy. I'm not sure what he thought about kilts. Unlike his brother, he did nor write as extensively about his boyhood and father.
Charles: Charles did not wear kilts nearly as much as his grandfather. He was often photographed in kilts at Balmoral. He does not seem to have objected as he is occasionally seen in kilts even as an adult.
William: William I believe has worn a kilt as a younger boy. He has since never to my knowledged been photographed in a kilt. I have not read any details on this, but apparently he does not like them.


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Created: December 8, 1998
Last updated: 6:43 AM 1/19/2008