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Liz Truss recently met the Queen in her Scottish residence Balmoral to be invited to form a government as Prime Minister. Usually this meeting would be performed in Buckingham Palace in London, but on occasion has been performed elsewhere according to The Times:

After the sudden resignation of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in 1908, his replacement Herbert Asquith was forced to travel to Biarritz where the Queen’s great-grandfather King Edward VII was on holiday at the time.

Other news reports seem to suggest that appointing a PM in Scotland would be unprecedented - the Independent for example calls it a "historic first" and quotes "insiders" saying "it is incredibly rare for any monarch not [sic] to appoint a new prime minister outside Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle".

Has a Prime Minister ever been appointed in Scotland before though, either at Balmoral or elsewhere?

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  • None before George IV certainly. You might amend your question to say that the Independent calls it the first time in "living memory" rather than first ever; this makes it clear that the Independent does not rule out older PMs.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 13:11
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    "it is incredibly rare for any monarch not to appoint a new prime minister outside Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle". This doesn't read in a way that fits the intended meaning.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 14:50
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    I'd also note that while the body of the question clears it up, the title to the question sounds like it is asking something very different (i.e. whether the Scottish regional government has ever had a P.M.).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 15:25
  • It should be kept in mind had som serious health problems, so she was likely just not able to go back to London to apoint the PM.
    – convert
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 19:13

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Sort of. Although this is the first time that the current Queen has appointed a Prime Minister away from the capital, it is not the first time that a potential Prime Minister has been charged to form a government in Scotland. In June 1885, Lord Salisbury met Queen Victoria there, as the FT reports:

Truss, previously foreign secretary, is the 15th prime minister appointed by the Queen throughout her 70-year reign. Incoming and outgoing prime ministers have previously been appointed at Buckingham Palace in London or at Windsor Castle. Truss is the first prime minister to be appointed at Balmoral since Queen Victoria appointed Lord Salisbury there in 1885.

The House of Commons Library website repeats this claim:

While most Prime Ministers resign or are appointed at Buckingham Palace, others have done so at Windsor. An exception was H. H. Asquith in 1908, who had to take a boat and train to Biarittz in France, where King Edward VII was on holiday. He is the only Prime Minister to have been appointed outside the UK. The Palace has confirmed next week’s appointment will be at Balmoral, which last occurred when Lord Salisbury became Prime Minister in 1885.

However, this is not entirely correct. Although Lord Salisbury met the Queen at Balmoral and was asked to form a government, he was not appointed Prime Minister there. Instead, he returned to London and gathered a Cabinet before meeting the Queen in Windsor, where he was formally appointed to the role of Prime Minister. This is documented in newspaper articles from that time; most archives seem to require a paid subscription unfortunately, but this Sydney Daily Telegraph article from June 15th, 1885 is freely available:

It is announced that Her Majesty has summoned the Marquis of Salisbury to Balmoral, and that he will be charged with the formation of a new Ministry.

A couple of days later, the same newspaper announced:

Lord Salisbury has formed a new Cabinet.

However, Salisbury did not actually become Prime Minister until he met the Queen at Windsor and accepted office - we can see from Hansard that Gladstone was still being referred to as 'Prime Minister' on June 19th.

It was only on June 23rd that Earl Granville announced in the House of Lords a change of Prime Minister:

My Lords, I am authorized to state that Lord Salisbury has gone down to Windsor, and has accepted Office; and at his desire I propose, when the proceedings of the day close, to move the adjournment of the House, as usual, till Thursday.

The only other Prime Minister to be appointed away from London was Lord Aberdeen, who undertook the 'kissing hands' ceremony with Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight in 1852, according to History Today. So no - the recent appointment of Liz Truss to the office of Prime Minister at Balmoral (and in Scotland more generally) is unprecedented.

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  • It doesn't have any particular significance, however. Liz Truss is exactly as much a Prime Minister as any other. The Queen can appoint a new PM in any location she likes. Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 16:39

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