A Day of Pride and Reflection for King Charles in Edinburgh.
Amidst the grandeur and spectacle, it was a day that revealed King Charles’s personal passions and beliefs, evoking a deep sense of Scottish national pride. Walking along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, memories of accompanying his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on a somber pilgrimage following her passing, resurfaced. The atmosphere this time, however, was jubilant, as the crowds filled the route with joy.
Yet, amidst the celebrations, the King surely took a moment of introspection, reflecting on the grief and sorrow he experienced during that earlier procession. This day not only harked back to the past but also looked to the future, symbolized by the presence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland. Clad in their elegant Order of the Thistle robes, they epitomized continuity and the monarchy’s ongoing journey.
The King shares a deep connection with Scotland, making the service of thanksgiving and dedication more than a mere formality. It provided an opportunity for him to reaffirm his commitment to Scotland, celebrating its rich culture and heritage. The King played an active role in selecting the musical pieces, commissioning some of them personally.
At the heart of the church stood the Stone of Scone, guarded by the Royal Archers, the King’s bodyguards, throughout the service. This ancient symbol of Scottish sovereignty served as a powerful reminder of the complex political history between Scotland and Britain. Its presence, alongside the Honours of Scotland, in service for the first time since the 13th century, marked a historic moment.
During her sermon, the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton beautifully encapsulated the diversity of the nation, emphasizing the importance of learning from different perspectives and cultures. The voices of protestors chanting “Not My King” intermittently echoed through the church, a reminder that the congregation should heed the message of embracing diversity and understanding.
The reverend also conveyed an environmental message close to the King’s heart, echoing his beliefs. She reminded everyone that the Earth is not a mere possession but a beautiful and fragile planet, deserving of care and protection for future generations. Her words encouraged people to listen to the natural world and recognize its worshipful existence.
The day started with celebrations in Edinburgh city center, as royal enthusiasts secured spots along the Royal Mile to catch a glimpse of the procession. A group of anti-monarchy protesters also gathered nearby, although their disruptive chants were criticized as they disturbed the otherwise spiritual and sacred ceremony.
Undeterred, a people’s procession commenced from the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, featuring representatives from various walks of Scottish life. Led by Corporal Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony mascot of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, the procession showcased the nation’s diversity and heritage.
Inside the church, as the choir concluded their performance, a moment of serene quiet filled the air. Then, the distant sound of the military band drew nearer, accompanied by muffled cheers. The Honours of Scotland, the Scottish crown jewels, arrived at the cathedral, transported in Rolls Royces. With each item’s presentation, the congregation sang Psalm 36, adding a reverent and musical dimension to the ceremony.
Violinist Nicola Benedetti mesmerized the entire congregation with her performance of the soaring and hauntingly beautiful Soay, a lost song of St Kilda, an island with a poignant history. The King was fully absorbed, particularly moved by Joy Dunlop’s Gaelic Psalm And I Shall Dwell in God’s House, specially commissioned for the service.
The presentation of the Honours was accompanied by blessings and greetings from multi-faith leaders, including representatives from different religious backgrounds. Their presence reflected the King’s commitment to inclusivity and his dedication to representing people of all faiths and none.
As the King left, he expressed his gratitude and remarked on the service’s loveliness. Half an hour later, the King, Queen, Prince, and Princess of Wales gathered on the balcony at Holyroodhouse to witness an RAF flypast. Together, they represented a slimmer and focused image of the Royal family, highlighting the present and future.
The day in Edinburgh was a celebration of Scottish heritage, a demonstration of the King’s commitment to Scotland, and an opportunity for reflection and unity. It showcased the rich tapestry of Scotland’s culture, the importance of embracing diversity, and the need to protect our planet for generations to come.