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2 Jun 2022

A Jubilee exhibition at Falkland Palace

Written by Sandie Allison, Visitor Services Supervisor – Collections Care, Fife
The Royal Company of Archers uniform on display at Falkland Palace
As part of Falkland Palace​’s celebrations to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee we are delighted to exhibit, for the first time, a Royal Company of Archers uniform from our collection within the Keeper​’s Dressing Room.

The uniform underwent conservation work in 2020, at the request of the Hereditary Keeper, after being re-discovered within a marriage chest in the Keeper’s Bedroom. Made of a vibrant green wool, decorated on the tails and cuffs, and embellished with thistles and silver and gold braid, it’s a strikingly unique symbol of Scotland.

Watch now: Tales from the Trust’s teams – a marriage chest of uniforms and costumes at Falkland Palace

The Platinum Jubilee exhibition featuring the uniform will run until October 2022 at Falkland Palace.

In 1958, as part of the Queen’s official tour of Scotland, the Queen was invited to visit Falkland Palace. It was a fleeting visit, and part of a whistle stop tour of Fife. Despite only having 50 minutes, it was a significant occasion: this was the first time a reigning monarch had visited the Palace for over 300 years.

To mark the occasion, the Hereditary Keeper (Major Michael Crichton Stuart), the National Trust for Scotland and Falkland residents put on a magnificent welcome. The visit coincided with the 500th anniversary of Falkland becoming a Royal Burgh. Events included a masque performed by the Mermaid Players of St Andrews University in front of Key House (left of the Palace gates), re-enacting the moment when James II granted the town a royal charter in 1458. As part of the Queen’s tour, she entered through the arch under the gatehouse and watched a game of ‘Royal Tennis’ on the Palace tennis court. She was then escorted through the gardens and past a line of local members of the Royal Company of Archers on the East Terrace.

One of the first Scottish engagements undertaken by the young Elizabeth after her coronation in 1952 was her inspection of the Queen’s bodyguard, The Royal Company of Archers, in the gardens of Holyrood Palace on 26 June 1952. The Royal Company of Archers is a uniquely Scottish institution, and was first founded in 1676 as a private archery club called the Edinburgh Archers.

Queen Anne granted a charter in 1704 allowing the club to form a paramilitary force under the historic dispensation of ‘wapinschaw’ or ‘weaponshowing’. In 1822 the Company formed the bodyguard for George IV on a visit to Edinburgh and in 1866 became the official sovereign’s bodyguard in Scotland. As is tradition, when the Queen ascended the throne in 1952 the Royal Company of Archers requested that she accept the Reddendo a clause in their charter specifying the Royal Company’s duty to protect the sovereign.

Today the Royal Company of Archers perform duties at State and ceremonial occasions in Scotland, at the request of the Queen. They attend events including the annual Garden Party at Holyrood Palace, and the Installation of the Knights of the Thistle at St Giles’ Cathedral. The Company are still an active archery club, with competitions held every year. Since her coronation in 1952, Elizabeth II has presented The Queen’s Prize – a shoot held annually in the gardens at Holyrood.

Our exhibit explores the Queen’s visit in 1958 in more detail and highlights the Royal Company of Archers’ unique relationship with Her Majesty. There is an opportunity to explore the exhibit with handling objects, a copy of the ‘Programme of Events of the Day’ and replica hats to try on. We are also inviting our visitors, volunteers and staff to share any memories they might have of the Queen during her 70 years on the throne via our social media or our special ‘memories book’ within the Keeper’s Dressing Room.

The Jubilee exhibition opened at Falkland Palace on 19 May and runs until 31 October 2022. Entry is included with normal admission to the palace.

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