What is the Ceremony of the Keys in Edinburgh? Meaning and tradition explained as King arrives in Scotland
The symbolic ceremony will take place in in Holyrood Palace, in Edinburgh
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The monarch will be taking part in the symbolic Ceremony of the Keys in Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.
Her coffin will then travel to St Giles’ Cathedral, so members of the public can pay their respects.
But what is the Ceremony of the Keys and what does it mean? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the Ceremony of the Keys?
The Ceremony of the Keys takes place every year at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
It usually occurs at the beginning of The Queen’s summer holiday there in July.
When the monarch arrives, they are presented with the keys of the city of Edinburgh by Lord Provost.
Tradition dictates that they then return them, trusting the city with Edinburgh’s elected officials.
The Queen last took part in the ceremony in July 2022.
This is the first time King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort will carry out the ceremony.
As well as accepting and returning the keys, they will also inspect a guard of honour.
The ceremony is also performed at the beginning of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, when the Lord High Commissioner, as the Monarch’s representative, receives the keys from the Lord Provost.
What happens during the Ceremony of Keys?
The Ceremony of Keys takes place in Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, with the monarch and Lord Provost playing a symbolic role.
The King will first be offered the keys to the city of Edinburgh, with Lord Provost declaring: “We, the Lord Provost and the members of the City of Edinburgh Council, welcome Your Majesty to the capital city of your Ancient and Hereditary Kingdom of Scotland and offer for your gracious acceptance the Keys of Your Majesty’s good City of Edinburgh.”
The monarch will then return the keys, saying: “I return these keys, being perfectly convinced that they cannot be placed in better hands than those of the Lord Provost and Councillors of my good City of Edinburgh.”
After the Ceremony of Keys, King Charles will carry out an inspection of the guard.
He will lead the procession as The Queen’s coffin is taken from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral.
Members of the public will be able to pay their respects, before The Queen travels to London for her state funeral on Monday 19 September.
Why is it taking place in Edinburgh?
The Ceremony of Keys takes place once a year in Edinburgh, however, at the Tower of London the ceremony is a nightly affair.
The ancient tradition is believed to be one of the oldest military ceremonies in the world, having taken place since the 14th Century.
Every night at 9:53 pm, the Chief Yeoman Warder locks the main gates of the Tower of London, wearing a red watch coat and carrying a lantern lit by a single candle.
The only occasion where the ceremony has been disrupted was during the Blitz in World War Two.