Mary Queen of Scots' Return by Maisie Chan

This piece of fiction inspired by the past was written by author Maisie Chan. She takes us into the thoughts of Mary Queen of Scots at the moment in time when she returned to Scotland from France aged 18 - ahead of schedule!

As a teenage Queen with a tough job ahead of her, Mary tries to find joy and self-confidence amidst her many worries.

Dear Diary,

Soon we’ll arrive in Scotland, the land of my birth. I have been gone thirteen years.

The sea was unusually calm on our journey - it only took five days to get from France to near Leith. I hope everyone is ready for my arrival!

The sea mist, which they call haar, is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face! I’ve come back down below deck to tell you (and only you) my thoughts about this new adventure.

There are so many things I need to learn about my new home, and the country which I am going to rule as queen. I worry I’ll be rubbish at it. I feel very much alone since mother and dearest Francis passed away. I don’t know if I will laugh again.

However, I’ve got a job to do, and I intend to do it well. I just wish sometimes I could be free to roam wherever I wanted to go.

Dear Diary,

I can’t quite believe I am writing this. No-one is here to welcome us. You would think being the queen that they would have at least put up a welcome banner! 

To make matters worse, not all my baggage has arrived. I’ve had to borrow some dresses from the four Marys, who are the best ladies-in-waiting a queen could have. One of them went out to find me a Scottish cake which was a sweet gesture. The food is different here, but I am liking trying new treats.

The rooms at Holyrood Palace were not yet ready and so we’ll stay with a local merchant. My mother’s furniture has not yet been delivered. When it all arrives at least I’ll have something of hers close by. Yet, I fear that even with my mother’s things around me, this place will still feel as foreign as can be.

Our party has been taken out to explore Edinburgh. Many of the locals have been very friendly, one small girl gave me a posy of flowers. Perhaps all is not as bleak as it first seemed.

Dear Diary,

We’ve moved to Holyrood Palace which is very nice and spacious. One of the servants said I will need my golden necklace that is also a pomander and that she can fill its chambers with lavender to remind me of France.

This might help with the bad smell starting to seep into my chambers from below. With so many of us staying at the palace, I’m afraid to say that the number ones and number twos have steadily piled high. An almighty stench fills my nostrils each morning, but it is a good excuse to get outside and smell the crisp Scottish air. I love the scenery that surrounds us and am keen to explore further.

I’ve been informed that in few weeks we shall travel to see Stirling Castle to allow the muck to be cleared out. Having to move around the country to get away from bad smells is a good excuse for me to see more of my kingdom.

Dear Diary,

Today was the day of my welcome parade. Everyone in Edinburgh came out to see me as we rode down the Royal Mile from Holyrood towards the castle. The people were waving and most looked happy to see me. My heart felt light, if only for a few moments.

At the Lawnmarket a beautiful archway had been made from which a child dressed as a cherub was lowered down from overhead. The sounds of the choir were heavenly.

But near the Netherbow, a dragon made from papier mâché was set alight on front of my eyes. I felt that the dragon represented my Pope, and the burning was a challenge to my authority. I decided to show no reaction in public and rode by without saying anything. However inside I was angry and hurt.

Dear Diary,

I managed to get outside for a ride today for the first time since arriving to Scotland. It is truly a beautiful land. It was a lot of fun to have some time alone where I could just be me, Mary, rather than a queen. After doing my duties today, I shall play a round of golf! I am excited to play it here, in the country where it was invented.        

I am beginning to love Scotland, even if not all in Scotland love me back. Will they ever take me into their hearts as I am trying to do with them? I hope so dear diary, I really hope so.