August in Edinburgh!

The Festival! The Fringe! Street theatre! The Edinburgh Military tattoo and the massed pipes and drums! Glorious sunshine one day, a Biblical downpour the next! It was much the same 200 years ago when King George IV paid an official visit to Edinburgh.

WJ Huggins, George IV’s Arrival at Leith. Courtesy of Heriot Watt University

In August 1822 the entertainment, the bagpipes and the street theatre came from the processions, parades, banquets and balls threaded through his two-week stay in the Scottish capital. Masterminded by Sir Walter Scott, the visit also saw – sort of – a gathering of the clans.  A welcome splash of colour on the rainy days, tartan and Highland dress were everywhere.

Even the King wore the kilt. Unfortunately, the tailor made it too short. His legs didn’t look so good anyway, so he wore pink tights to cover them.  He looks great in this portrait by Sir David Wilkie. The artist may just have flattered him a wee bit.

David Wilkie, George IV in a kilt.

The cartoonists of the time had a field day.  They were savage. 

Cartoon of George IV in his too short kilt.

The contradictions and ironies of the visit were many. You can read more about it in my Historia article.  


  1. Georgie Nicholson
    16th August 2022

    have seen some of the cartoons of the time Maggie.
    As we say in Scotland ‘They dinny miss him an’ hit the wa’.
    p.s. Has Robert Catto been to your kitchen for his coffee recently?

    1. Maggie Craig
      24th August 2022

      He has that. He was standing in the doorway yesterday evening, glowering at me…

  2. Georgie Nicholson
    16th August 2022

    Miss the Festival very much, we went there every year.
    I have seen the cartoons of the time and Sir David Wilkie
    was definitely being kind.

    1. Maggie Craig
      24th August 2022

      Same here. Maybe next year!

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