On a weekend visit to Edinburgh, your blogger enjoyed the extensive exhibition “On the trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites”. In fact it was well into the second half before Bonnie Prince himself arrived but the ground had been thoroughly prepared. There were no less than five challenges to the united English/Scottish throne (first occupied by the Stuarts through James I from 1603 but lost in the Glorious Revolution when the Prince’s grandfather James II was exiled). The Prince also known as the Young Pretender (born in exile) led the last of these in 1745. He and his followers landed in Scotland and with the support of Highland clansmen, they marched on Edinburgh and occupied Holyrood Palace.
After various battles they headed south in 1746 and took Carlisle and then on towards London but halting fatally at Derby. Lacking the expected support from French and English volunteers, Prince Charlie then turned north again, with the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II and his troops hot on his heels. The Duke became known as “the Butcher” after the terrible battle at Culloden, when the Jacobites where not just defeated but slaughtered. Bonnie Prince Charlie survived, fled and hid in various places, including dressing up as a woman, before returning to France, where he declined into drunkenness and ignominy. A sad story, well told.
PS The statue overlooking Princes Street Garden in the background of the photo is a memorial to the Royal Scots Grey soldiers who participated in the much later Boer War.
And what about the Hamiltons
My interest in all this is of course the Dukes of Hamilton, Hamilton Palace and the history of my painting as told in my book “Finding Veronese, Memoir of a Painting”. The Hamiltons were in fact second in line to the Scottish throne, but managed for the most part to stay out of Jacobite politics. The 1st Duke of Hamilton had been a close associate of King Charles I (son of James I) and had lost his head in the same way 100 years earlier.
So while I was in Edinburgh I went along to the National Portrait Gallery to see this outstanding painting of the 1st Duke of Hamilton, by Daniel Mytens.