Queen adds final stitch to new panel on Great Tapestry of Scotland

The King and Queen are visiting the Scottish Borders.

Lucinda Cameron
Thursday 06 July 2023 17:45 BST
The Queen added the final stitch to a new panel on the Great Tapestry of Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The Queen added the final stitch to a new panel on the Great Tapestry of Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The Queen made her mark on the Great Tapestry of Scotland as she added the final stitches on a new panel during a visit with the King.

The royal couple toured the visitor centre for the tapestry, which tells the story of Scotland, on Thursday to mark 10 years since the art project was completed and first went on display to the public.

During their visit to the centre in Galashiels, in the Scottish Borders, they viewed a new panel commemorating their visit and the coronation, and Camilla was then invited to help finish it.

The panel features an image of Camilla’s two Jack Russell rescue dogs and she added the final three stitches to one of their collars.

The tapestry charts 420 million years of Scotland’s history, heritage, innovations and culture through 160 panels.

Dorie Wilkie, stitch co-ordinator for the project, showed the Queen, who is patron of the Royal School of Needlework, which part of the panel to sew.

She said: “The Queen said she is the worst at sewing in the world but she did very well. Afterwards she was joking with the King saying ‘I’ve done some sewing on the panel’.

“It was lovely to meet them and show them the work of the stitchers who contributed.

“The Queen was very interested in the textures and saying it’s much better seeing them in life than in a book, and was thrilled to bits to be looking around, and the King was very interested in the detail.”

The panel also features references to the King’s interest in fishing, and an image of the Old Man of Lochnagar, from the children’s book that he wrote.

Crowds lined the street outside the visitor centre and cheered and waved Union Jack flags as the couple arrived on Thursday morning, stopping to chat to well-wishers as they walked into the building.

Once inside, Charles and Camilla met artist Andrew Crummy who designed the tapestry and Alistair Moffat, a historian who decided which episodes in Scottish history would feature in it.

Mr Crummy was meeting the King for the second day in a row as he attended the investiture ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Wednesday, having been made an MBE in the New Year Honours list for services to art and cultural heritage.

He said: “We could talk a bit more today than yesterday and it was nice to take him round the tapestry and tell him some of the stories, which he seemed genuinely interested in.

“He wanted to get the more human side of the story and hear about the contribution of the stitchers to the project.”

The couple also met author Alexander McCall Smith, who conceived the idea of the tapestry.

McCall Smith said: “We spoke about the tapestry, I think they are both very interested in the artistic side of it and the historical side and my impression is that they were very interested in it.

“He comes across as a very kind man and a very sensitive man. so I think we are pretty lucky to have a head of state who is interested in this kind of thing.

“The tapestry is a living thing, there are some works of art that are static but this is the opposite of that, it really has an ongoing life.”

Hand-stitched by 1,000 stitchers from communities across Scotland, the project took more than two years to complete and the finished tapestry toured the country in 2013 and 2014.

It is now housed at the visitor centre, which opened in August 2021.

Events featured in the panels include the Battle of Bannockburn, the foundation of the University of St Andrews, the Highland and Lowland clearances and the Clydebank Blitz.

The King, who was wearing a kilt in Charles Edward Stuart tartan, and Queen also met centre director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes and some of the stitchers involved in the project.

Later in the day, Charles and Camilla privately toured the Lochcarron of Scotland weaving mill in Selkirk.

They also visited the marketplace in Selkirk where an array of local produce was on show.

They viewed a performance of Casting Of The Colours, which originates from the Selkirk Common Riding, with music from the Selkirk Silver Band.

More than 400 riders take part in the Selkirk Common Riding, a celebration of the history and traditions of the Royal and Ancient Burgh.

The event is held on the second Friday after the first Monday in June, when the town’s boundaries or “marches” are ridden, while the Casting Of The Colours acts as a poignant reminder of the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

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