Did you know that you can tour Scotland’s parliament? Scottish Parliament tours bring government to life by allowing for a hands-on look at history and government.
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Touring Scottish Parliament
If you find yourself in Edinburgh, we definitely recommend taking the time to tour the Scottish Parliament. Tours are free, and there are a variety of tours to choose from. The outside of the building is quite fascinating. I remember a lot of controversy while it was being built, but people seem to have accepted it now.
The History of Scotland’s Parliament
Did you know that, up until 1707 Scotland was ruled by the independent Parliament of Scotland? The 1707 Treaty of Union united the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England into a state called Great Britain, but Scotland never forgot their lost independence. In 1998, they regained some (but not all) of that independence through the Scotland Act, which allowed Scotland a devolved Scottish Parliament. This devolved parliament is allowed for the new Scottish Parliament to make any legislation that is for Scotland only, but they are still ruled to some extent by the UK parliament at Westminster. Here is an explanation of how power is shared between the Holyrood Scottish Parliament and the UK Parliament at Westminster.
You can learn more about how parliament works here.
Scotland and Europe
Right now, power is also shared between Scotland and the European Union. We were in Edinburgh for the Brexit vote last summer, and currently the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union in March 2019. Scotland actually voted to stay in the European Union, but they were tied to the overall UK vote. Some people are hoping that Scotland will find a way to remain as part of the EU, but that doesn’t seem likely.
Since nearly 300 years had passed since Scotland last had their own parliament, a new building was constructed for the new Scottish Parliament. Mike and I got to watch the new Scottish Parliament building take shape while we were in Edinburgh as students from 2003-2006. Mike even got to see the opening ceremony in 2004! I was in Croatia, doing research for my Ph.D., so I missed all the fanfare. Last summer, we got to tour the parliament building with our four kids (and a bunch of students Mike was in charge of in Scotland).
Our tour of Parliament provided a neat opportunity to learn about how a relatively young government works! My kids were even given handouts explaining how parliament works in simple language – a fantastic hands-on civil law lesson!
More Places to Take Your Kids in Scotland
We enjoyed spending one month in Scotland with our kids last summer!
Here are some more great places to take your kids in Edinburgh:
- Craigmillar Castle
- Arthur’s Seat
- The Elephant House Cafe. J.K. Rowlilng wrote part of the first Harry Potter book here!
- Holyrood Palace. The Queen stays here every summer; you will have to schedule your visit for a time when she is not in residence.
- Edinburgh Castle. We went here several times!
We also recommend these tips for getting around Edinburgh with kids!
We also recommend these activities outside of Edinburgh
- Falkirk Wheel. If pricing is an issue, it’s well worth watching and walking along even if you don’t get actually ride the wheel.
- Loch Ness. If you take a cruise, like we did, your kids can learn all about canal locks!
We will likely be back in Scotland with a new set of students during the summer of 2018. What should we add to this list?
Have you toured Scottish parliament? How does the government work where you live? My kids are curious, so please share with us in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram.