King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (2024)

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (1)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (2)PA

The King and Queen have begun two days of events for a Holyrood Week shortened this year by the general election.

Their official stay in Scotland got under way with the monarch receiving the keys to the City of Edinburgh, which is celebrating its 900th anniversary.

The Royal Family postponed engagements "which may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign", but will attend the city's anniversary events, a garden party and a literary reception.

The King also presided over an investiture ceremony at the palace.

Recipients include bestselling author Sir Alexander McCall Smith - creator of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and the 44 Scotland Street novels - who will receive a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

The Queen held a reception to celebrate Scottish literacy, including bookshop owners, writers and literary organisations.

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (3)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (4)PA

The King, who arrived by helicopter with the Queen, started his official engagements by inspecting a guard of honour in the Palace of Holyroodhouse gardens.

Before the ceremony, the palace garden was transformed into a parade ground, where the King met senior military and uniformed figures, including Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell.

He then received a royal salute before inspecting a Guard of Honour of soldiers from Balaklava Company, 5 Scots.

The Ceremony of the Keys was held in the garden of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the King's official residence in Edinburgh.

He was welcomed by Lord Provost Robert Aldridge, who presented the keys on a red velvet cushion for the King to symbolically touch.

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (5)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (6)PA

The Duke and duch*ess of Edinburgh will later join the King and Queen to host guests at a garden party.

On Wednesday the royal couple will be joined by Prince William, whose Scottish title is the Duke of Rothesay, at St Giles' Cathedral, where Camilla and Edward will be appointed to the Order of the Thistle.

Scotland's highest royal honour, can only be bestowed by the King himself.

It currently recognises 16 knights as well as men and women who have held public office or who have given a particular contribution to national life.

The King and Queen will round off the trip with a celebration at Edinburgh Castle to mark the city's 900th anniversary.

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (7)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (8)PA

More than 50 people received honours from the King at the investiture.

Sir Alexander McCall Smith said his knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity was a "wonderful thing".

The emeritus professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and creator of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which is set in Botswana, has written and contributed to more than 100 books including short story collections, children's books and specialist academic titles.

He also conceived the idea of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, now housed in Galashiels.

Now 75, Sir Alexander was born in Zimbabwe, then known as Southern Rhodesia, and made Edinburgh his home after studying there.

Asked what his character Mma Ramotswe would think about the knighthood, he said: "She would be very happy I think, it's been a long journey I've had with her, conversation over many years.

"I wish she could be with us today but she's entirely fictional."

Sir Alexander is also a patron of charities including The Eric Liddell Community, a care charity and community hub in Edinburgh.

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (9)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (10)PA

Prof Paul Mealor, from the University of Aberdeen, became a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order - a gift given by the King to people who have served the monarchy in a personal way.

His royal compositions included the Coronation Kyrie for the King's coronation last year and music for the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011.

Speaking after being honoured at the ceremony on Tuesday, he said it was an "incredible surprise" to get the award.

"When you are asked to do these things, you do it for the honour of doing them," he said.

Others honoured included Prof Sir Jim McDonald, principal of the University of Strathclyde, who was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire for services to engineering, education and energy.

Liz Smith, a former Scotland cricketer who is now a Conservative MSP, became a CBE for services to sport.

Members of the emergency services were also honoured, including Police Scotland Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain, retired chief superintendent Carol McGuire, from South Ayrshire, and PC Stephanie Rose, from Denny, who received the King's Police Medal.

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (11)King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (12)PA

The Queen then hosted writers, publishers and booksellers to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Crime authors Sir Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Sir Alexander McCall Smith were among the authors at the reception with representatives from the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Scottish Book Trust.

The Queen is a patron of a number of literary organisations, and her own Reading Room project, launched during lockdown.

Sir Ian said the Queen was a fan of "anything that gets people reading".

Commenting on Edinburgh's literary heritage, he added: "It's always been a literary city and it's always been a city that's inspired writers. Everybody from Robert Louis Stevenson to Muriel Spark and to Irvin Welsh have been influenced by the city.

"And although it's a very small city, it's like Doctor Who's Tardis - it's much bigger on the inside because it has all these different versions of itself in there, waiting to be explored by writers of various hues."

Scotland

Edinburgh

UK Royal Family

Queen Camilla

King Charles III

King Charles launches shortened Holyrood Week in Edinburgh (2024)

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