Mobile menu

Activities full of historical facts, insights and fun learning opportunities

Mary, Queen of Scots

Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots wearing white veil

Mary, Queen of Scots by Francois Clouet, RCIN 403429 ©

Mary, Queen of Scots lived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse during some of the most dramatic years of her life.

She became Queen of Scotland at just a few days old, following the death of her father, James V.  Soon after, Henry VIII tried to force Scotland to accept a marriage between Mary and his son, Prince Edward. Both the Palace and Holyrood Abbey were attacked by English troops during what became known as the ‘Rough Wooing’.

In 1548, the 5-year-old queen was sent to France to be brought up in safety at the French court, leaving Scotland in the care of her mother.

Following the death of her first husband, Francis II, Mary returned to Scotland in 1561, and took up residence at the Palace. Many of the most significant events of her reign took place here.  She married her second husband, Lord Darnley, in the Palace chapel in 1565, and witnessed the murder of her Italian secretary, David Rizzio, in her private chambers the following year. In 1567, after Darnley's death under mysterious circumstances, Mary married her third husband, the Earl of Bothwell, in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The resources on this page explore Mary’s time at the Palace and bring together objects, paintings and works of art from the Royal Collection associated with her life.


Explore Mary, Queen of Scots' Chambers

Reached by a narrow, steep and winding staircase, Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers can be found in the oldest part of the Palace. Explore the rooms and the objects inside them.

Head and shoulders portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots wearing white veil

Who's Who?

Use portraits from the Royal Collection to take a closer look at some of the important people from Mary, Queen of Scots’ story.

Portrait of David Rizzio holding a violin

The Murder of David Rizzio

Investigate the events surrounding the murder of Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio, on 9 March 1566.

Engraving of the west front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Edinburgh's Royal Mile in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots

Use our walking map to investigate Edinburgh’s most famous street as it would have been seen by Mary, Queen of Scots.

Teachers Resource

Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact Sheet