Sunday, 30 June 2013


When I was in Edinburgh last week, I caught a preview of this fascinating exhibition about Mary, Queen of Scots at the National Museum of Scotland.
Somehow, I've always focused on the rivalry between Mary and Elizabeth, the long years of imprisonment and Mary's execution. Maybe it was being in Edinburgh, but what came vividly alive  to me this time was the 19-year old-widow - Queen of Scots and dowager Queen of France - and those six turbulent years that she spent in Scotland before her abdication. For once, it wasn't the portraits and jewellery that enthralled me ...
It was a coin struck by her ambitious husband Darnley, depicting himself not as King Consort but as Mary's equal.
And the crime scene reconstruction, a precise sketch of how the bodies were discovered on the morning after Darnley's murder, that was sent to Elizabeth's statesman William Cecil by one of his Edinburgh spies. In case you've forgotten, Darnley's lodgings were blown to rubble in a gunpowder explosion but his mysteriously unscathed body was found in a garden on the other side of the town wall.

And then you realise that if you stand in the museums's natural history gallery - and you look past the squid and the shark and the elephant - well, that's the outside wall of the museum that was the boundary  of Kirk o' Field, where Darnley had his lodgings. The town wall runs under the museum. And Darnley's body was found somewhere only yards down the street.

And I had an overwhelming feeling of standing where it all happened.

Meanwhile I leave you this trailer of a forthcoming TV series. Please, call me Mary!

10 comments:

Sue said...

Have you read A Traveller In Time by Alison Uttley? It's a children's book (teens perhaps)in which Mary Queen of Scots plays a part. Although Elizabethan England is the time to which the heroine travels she is Edwardian so you get a double sense of time travel.

I'm not sure about that tv series....

mary said...

I read it years ago, Sue - we did at school - a lovely book. Do you remember the marchpane house?

The TV series is quite something, isn't it? I love Mary's Aussie accent ... come on up the castle and let's barbie! And I was being rude about The White Queen!

Sue said...

I do remember the marchpane house. I hav e an audio version, sadly abridged but still enchanting.

I've given The White Queen a wide berth. Was I right to do so?

mary said...

It's pretty corny, Sue. I'm too short-sighted to pick up on details that critics have been laughing about - eg zips on dresses and corduroy jerkins - but it's still tosh! Like eating a supermarket cake that wasn't worth the calories.

Magic Bean said...

Yes! That's exactly how it is- supermarket cake without the calories! Have you read any of Caitlin Moran's reviews on it? They made me laugh out loud.
Ax

Sue said...

oh what a good description, I know just what you mean.

I tell you what will be worth watching if it comes to fruition -Wolf Hall with Mark Rylance.

mary said...

Hilarious, Magic Bean. But really, it was downhill from the moment she was standing under that tree waiting for a King to come along like a 65 bus.
I'm ashamed of myself for still watching!

Magic Bean said...

No. I am still watching. Chewing gum for the eyes. And I would really love to have that long crimpy hair but as I have just had mine chopped it is far far from how my locks could look.
Ax

Magic Bean said...

Ha! My word verification was vain!!!

mary said...

Yes, those 15th century conditioners ...because you're worth it?