INTERVIEWS MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
BY JONATHAN ROBERT MUIRHEAD
A few months ago, we interviewed Mary Queen Of Scots in beautiful Fotheringay Castle. We were shown round her private garden, where we threw rings for her little Skye terrier, Jock and had a cake from Mary’s hometown, a “Dundee” cake. Mary told us her life story over a bonny wee dram.
Mary, you’ve been through a fair bit of emotional turmoil, but when did you hear that you die tomorrow?
Aboot hauf an oor ago.
Have you any words of comfort, or favourite recipes, for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position?
Contact those closest tae ye an’ tell thum yi luv thum, ‘cause ae aw the things ah wish ah’d done, the missed quality time wi’ ma faimly hurts maist
And why did you not do more of it?
Well, if ye’d ever met ma family, ye’d ken fine why!
So, no recipes then? You were born, to an expatriate French mother and an absentee King father, in Linlithgow, in 1542?
Aye, ah never really knew ma mother or faither. Ma faither, died whin ah wis born, an’ ma mither, well, ah knew her as a bairn, right enough, but whin ah wis six, she offloaded me ontae ma French Granny an’ Granpa!
Just before he died, your father made a prophecy – “It cam’ wi’ a lass an d it will gang wi’ a lass,” - what did he mean?
It’s an auld Scots sayin’, aboot ma faimly. It means it cam’ wi’ a lass and it’ll gang wi’ a lass.
You say your mother sent you to France, to be brought up by her family, how did you feel about this?
Awfy upset. She jist let oan ah wis gaun tae playgroup as normal!
And when did it dawn on you that this might not be the case?
When ah wis shoved on the big boat.
How did you feel on the trip over?
Thur wis wan really scary bit. We reached Paris an’ we saw aw thae explosions, so we goat oor cannon oot an’ blastit awa’! In the harbour, thur’s aw thae wifies greetin. “Tres terrible news, Mademoiselle Marie, your welcoming cortege of ships has been massacred!"
You were married to Francis, the Prince Regent, or “Le Dauphin Du France”. However, just months after your marriage Henry your father-in-law was tragically killed. This had, did it not, a devastating effect on Francis?
Aye, he went aff the rails a bit, jist loungin’ aboot, greetin aw day. Then, he sterts huvin’ these breathin’ difficulties, so eventually, he died, mair oot ae grievin’ fur his faither thun anythin’ else. Aye, it wis Royal Sports Day an’ the big draw wis Henry’s Joustin’ Match, an’ he won it every year, ‘cept that last year.
He wis killed. He wis rollin’ aboot, blood everywhere an’ the boy he wis fightin’ says “ah didnae think it’d go through ‘im!” We goat the doctor, un we says, is there anythin’ ye can dae? He says aye, pronounce ‘im deid.
After Francis’s death, you returned to Scotland. How did you feel about this strange, foreign land you had left behind as a child?
Well, Holyrood Palace wis a dump! Ma faither hud been wantin’ it aw done up, so he’d hud the interior stripped oot an’ the interior walls knocked doon, but died withoot sayin’ whit he wanted done wi’ it! The pageboy says “it’s needin’ a wee bit work done, like!”
And things went from bad to worse, didn’t they?
Aye, ah wis huvin’ mass the next mornin’, an’ this big crowd sterts chantin’ “Burn the papist bitch!”. Ah thought that wis a bit cheeky. Then, thur wis the real treat, meetin’ John Knox!
You had a fair few arguments over the years. I believe that, at some points, he raved at you so violently, he reduced you to tears?
Ken whit he says tae me? “You are the death of Scotland, wi’ your tongue sae coorse as tae be a common whoor!” Tongue sae coorse? Ah went up tae him, an’ ah says, when they wur nailin’ Jesus tae the cross he didnae say fuckin’ jings!
You married your cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Why did you choose to marry within your own family?
Ah didnae choose, ah wis made tae! Women’ve come a long way since they days, hen! Well, we goat on awright, huvin’ been introduced an’ telt we wur getting’ mairrit, an’ it wis a guid laugh at the stert, ken wi’ wur honeymoon in Blair Atholl. But then ah goat pregnant, so ah decided tae hae a pairty. Well, it wis great, ken, wi’ ma secretary, David Rizzio, playin’ guitar an’ singin’ an’ that. He wis away wi’ his pal, Lord Ruthven, ‘cause Ruthven wis gaunnae die soon, an’ they wantit a big send-aff! In they aw come. Henry sees wee Dave wi’ his guitar on an’ he says tae him, here Davey Boy, haud this fur us an’ chibs ‘im wan! Ah says tae masel’, Mary, he’s goat tae go! So, thir wis wan night comin’ up, wan ae ma servants wis getting’ mairrit, an’ ah wis gaun along tae the reception efterwirds, an’ as it happens, Henry wis taken ill, an’ ah telt thum tae take ‘im tae this castle, ‘cause it wis nearby, an’ ah wis seein’ the Earl Of Bothwell, whae lived nearby. Now, ah says tae ‘im, ken, if ye manage tae make it look like an accident, ah’ll marry ye, an’ we’ll live happily ever efter.
And what happened then?
Well, the big night comes around an’ ah went tae see Henry, jist like ah normally would, so thur wis nae suspicions, so that aw went OK, so ah went tae see Bothwell an’ ah says tae him, now mind! It’s tae be discreet an’ it’s tae be an accident! So anyways, ah goes oot tae this big reception an’ it’s gaun great, up until aboot midnight, then, all ae a sudden, boom! So, everyone’s runnin’ aboot, ken, panickin’ an’ that, an’ ah’m jist thinkin’, ah hope that wis someone’s lum!
And were you right to be thinking that?
Aye, wull, jist as everyone’s getting’ back oan thur feet, in stumbles Jim Hepburn, the Earl Of Bothwell, face as black as a workaholic miner, wi’ a smile fae ear tae ear. “ah’ve goat some really sad news, yir Majesty, yir husband’s deid!”. Ma face went crimson!
And what did you do then?
Ah takes him tae wan side an’ says tae him, if that’s you bein’ discreet, ah’d hate tae think whit noisy’s like.
You always strenuously denied any part in Lord Darnley’s murder
Well, it wouldnae look too guid, eh? Ah mean, it’s no’ like Rab Bruce killin’ John Comyn, ken?
You married the man many believed to be his murderer, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Why?
We wur in love! Only he wis in love wi’ ma bloody crown! He wis the best ay a bad bunch, ah mean, ma nobles wurnae oil paintins, ken?
He deserted you at the Battle of Langside?
Aye! He shouts “ah’m creatin’ a diversion!” So, ah wis left an’ we lost the battle!
How do you know you lost?
Ah saw aw thae bodies getting’ piled up, an’ ah says, where ur thae fae? An’ the boy says, “that’s your deid”. The other boy hud wan or two bodies, the other side’s deid! A week later, ah’m doon here un this postcaird fae Denmark turns up – “Havin’ a lovely time, love Jim Bothwell!” Ah’m no’ bitter, ah jist wish he’d been a better faither tae wee Jimmy.
That would be your son, King James VI? You only knew James briefly, didn’t you?
Aye, he used tae come doon every weekend, but no’ sae much now, ken whit they’re like at that age, eh? “Ah’ll pop doon an’ see ye, Mum” an’ then next thing ye know, he’s away on a Royal Tour ae France!
It must have been very sad for you?
It wis, aye, specially the first time. He comes in, an’ the flunky says “This is your Mummy Mary!” an’ he bursts oot greetin’ “I’ve already got three Mummy Marys” and the flunky says “you Mummy’s been looking forward too seeing you!” an’ he says “Which Mummy’s this one?”.
And what did you do together on that first weekend?
Well, ah took him tae Church, ‘cause ah always went there on a Sunday, an’ he showed me up! We always opened the service wi’ The Lord’s Prayer, ken “Our Father Which Art In Heaven?”, so, the minister finishes an’ Jimmy stands up an’ says “I’ve got two Fathers In Heaven, haven’t I Mummy Mary 4?”
How long, by the point of that first meeting, had you been waiting to see James?
Had you written to him in between times?
Oh aye, wrote every day!
And what did he say in reply?
Nothin’, ‘cause he never replied ‘till he wis thirteen, then it wis jist thanks fir the letter.
At this point, Guards came in and led Mary to the beautiful main hall. She walked on to the stage and laid down her life, an example to us all. And don’t miss next issue, where we’ll be talking to Edinburgh’s most famous Deacon, William Brodie, about the effect Robert Louis Stevenson’s hit novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has had on his life!