Where is the Palace of Holyroodhouse and who lives there? All you need to know about this historic Scottish home

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is King Charles' official residence in Scotland and where he's spending time during Royal Week

Palace of Holyroodhouse which is King Charles' official home in Scotland
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is King Charles’ official residence in Scotland and where he’s spending time during the first Royal Week of his reign. 

King Charles might not have spent a huge amount of time outside London and his Clarence House home so far this year but he has plenty of other residences where he likes to spend time. From his Highgrove House home in Gloucestershire to Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, His Majesty likes to enjoy time away in the countryside. But whilst Birkhall is the Scottish home he’s spent time at for many years and Balmoral was known to be one of the late Queen Elizabeth’s favorites, it’s the Palace of Holyroodhouse that has long been the monarch’s official Scottish home. 

It takes center stage during Royal Week or Holyrood Week which started on July 3 this year. During this time the monarch travels across Scotland celebrating Scottish culture, people and achievements and hosts a garden party at Holyroodhouse. Outside of Royal Week, the palace is also a major attraction for tourists and locals alike and plays a huge part in royal protocol. 

Here we reveal what you need to know about the Palace of Holyroodhouse including exactly where it is, who lives there and what it looks like inside…

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the monarch in Scotland

(Image credit: Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Where is the Palace of Holyroodhouse?  

The Palace of Holyroodhouse sits at the end of the Royal Mile, the most famous collection of streets in Scotland's capital, Edinburgh. The Royal Mile connects nearby Edinburgh Castle with the Palace which is roughly 15 minutes walk away from Edinburgh Waverley Station. 

Who lives at Holyroodhouse? 

While the Palace of Holyroodhouse is King Charles official Scottish residence, no members of the immediate or extended Royal Family live there permanently. During the late Queen Elizabeth's reign she primarily spent time at Holyroodhouse in late June and early July for Holyrood Week or Royal Week. She rarely stayed there longer than a week and spent her time undertaking engagements in Scotland and hosting an annual garden party there.

Aerial view of Holyrood palace, 1671-1679, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, 17th century.

(Image credit: DEA / M. BORCHI / Contributor/Getty Images)

Prior to becoming monarch, King Charles III typically also visited the Palace of Holyroodhouse for one week every year. The King no doubt has special childhood memories of Holyroodhouse, having performed his very first royal duty there in June 1965. At just 16, King Charles, who was then Prince Charles, greeted hundreds of young Scottish and Commonwealth students at a summer garden party at the beautiful royal home.

This year Royal Week kicked off on July 3 and King Charles is expected to be based at Holyroodhouse during this week as he pays his first visit to Scotland since his coronation. A procession is also set to travel from the Palace to St Giles' Cathedral for a National Service of Thanksgiving.  

What is it like inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse? 

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is exactly what you'd expect - palatial. Its grounds include beautifully manicured gardens, a large castle yard, an ornate foundation, and a memorial statue to Edward VII. Inside the sprawling palace you'll find a dining room set for thirty, a throne room bedecked with royal portraits, and a morning drawing-room wall-to-wall in French tapestries.

Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Benedict XVI at Holyrood House Palace

(Image credit: Getty)

Visitors are also free to explore the King's sleeping chamber, which features a red four-poster bed and an ornate fireplace. There's also a spacious gallery and an elaborately decorated staircase. Queen Elizabeth last paid a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in June 2022 for Royal Week, during which she was joined by Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie for the traditional Ceremony of the Keys.

Can you visit the palace of Holyroodhouse?

For those who are eager to have a glimpse inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is open to the public for 7 days a week during July, August and September. Outside of these months the residence is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the Palace advises people to book tickets in advance. The Palace will be closed on Christmas Day and during King Charles' visit for Royal Week, with a 9:30am opening time all year round and a 4:30pm closing time from 1 November-31 March and 6pm from 1 April-31 October.  

Holyrood Palace at Royal Milefrom Calton Hill. Edinburgh. Lothian Region. Scotland. U.K.

(Image credit: myLoupe/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

The history of the Palace of Holyroodhouse 

Sometimes shortened to Holyroodhouse, the iconic royal residence dates all the way back to the 12th century. It was originally founded as an Augustinian monastery by King David I of Scotland and according to the Royal Family website, Scottish Kings decided to live in Holyroodhouse rather than Edinburgh Castle which was more exposed to the weather. 

Back in 1501, King James IV chose to clear the ground near the Abbey and built a Palace for his wife, Princess Margaret Tudor, the older sister of King Henry VIII and grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots who spent time living there during her reign. Today a part of the gatehouse survives and changes continued to be made over the years that followed.

The Ancient Royal Palace of Holyrood. Edinburgh', mid 19th century

(Image credit: Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)

During King Charles II's reign the palace was significantly rebuilt in the 1670s with the guidance of Scottish architect, Sir William Bruce. It was at this point that a tower was added to make a symmetrical façade and new Royal Apartments were created. But it wasn't until King George V and Queen Mary - Queen Elizabeth's grandparents - continued restoration that electricity, elevators and bathrooms were incorporated into the Palace of Holyroodhouse, bringing it well and truly into the modern era.

How much is the Palace of Holyroodhouse worth? 

The value of the Palace of Holyroodhouse remains unknown and the property is owned by the Crown Estate rather than being a private royal residence like Sandringham House. However, the Royal Family's real estate net worth is estimated be around $18 billion, with Buckingham Palace reportedly worth about $3 billion.

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.