The Great Tapestry of Scotland, where the people’s story of Scotland begins, has a new royal story to tell after Their Majesties The King and Queen visited the centre in the Scottish Borders. During the royal engagement, The Queen added the final stitch to a new panel commemorating the historic occasion. Their Majesties’ visit to view one of the world’s largest community arts projects in the town of Galashiels, coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s unveiling. The new panel is the first royal story to be added to the Tapestry since that time.
The King and Queen were welcomed by Mike Gray as Chair of the Tapestry Advisory Board and Centre Director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, who introduced them to some of the thousand stitchers and wider team responsible for the creation of the Tapestry, including author Alexander McCall Smith who conceived the idea, artist Andrew Crummy (who was presented with an MBE), stitcher coordinator Dorie Wilkie, fundraiser and tour manager Jan Rutherford and historian and author Alistair Moffat, alongside representatives for architects Page/Park who designed the centre’s award-winning building.
One of the world’s longest tapestries
Speaking after the visit, Sandy said: “It was the greatest honour to introduce The King and Queen to individuals who were instrumental in creating this compelling account of Scotland’s history, heritage and culture and one of the nation’s top-rated visitor experiences right here in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. This marks a significant moment in the Tapestry’s extraordinary success story. Their Majesties appeared to be moved by the Tapestry’s compelling artwork. Indeed, The Queen described it as ‘Absolutely Wonderful’, she said she wished she had more time to take it all in. In keeping with the Tapestry’s original ethos of allowing people to tell their own story in their own way, we were also thrilled that The King and Queen signed our commemorative certificate and Her Majesty added a stitch to our new panel. We specially designed the panel to reflect the significance of this royal visit and The Queen’s own appreciation of embroidery, which was so evident in her stunning Couture Coronation gown, hand embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. In keeping with the design of the dress and indeed The Great Tapestry of Scotland, there are some beautiful intricate hidden details stitched into the new panel which reflected The King and Queen’s greatest interests in life including nature, wildflowers, The King’s own book, The Old Man Lochnagar and The Queen’s Jack Russells Bess and Bluebell.”
Now in its permanent home in the once thriving textile region of the Scottish Borders, The Great Tapestry of Scotland’s 160 panels tell a visually compelling account of the people’s story of Scotland from millions of years BC to present day. This includes key moments in royal history such as the stories of King Macbeth, St Margaret of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots and her son James VI of Scotland and I of England, Queen Victoria and her particular love of Scotland, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. The purpose-built Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre, with two galleries, café, workshop space and shop, opened in August 2021. One of the world’s longest tapestries, hand stitched by a team of 1,000 stitchers led by Dorie Wilkie, The Great Tapestry of Scotland tells the visual story of Scotland’s history, heritage and culture from its formation to present day.
For more information on The Great Tapestry of Scotland visit: www.greattapestryofscotland.com
All images courtesy of Phil Wilkinson.