With its imposing frontage overlooking Edinburgh Castle, and a red carpet on the steps leading up to its doorway, the prestigious private members’ club at 100 Princes Street has been a landmark for decades.
But now the future of the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL), whose patron is HM the Queen, is in doubt after officials wrote to members informing them that they are “considering their options” for the future following advice from independent building specialists saying it needed significant upgrading
Members have been told they will be able to use the facilities at the Royal Scots Club in Abercromby Place as part of a partnership agreement and that it will continue its strong participation in the city’s arts, culture and hospitality scene by moving its entire operation to the Royal Scots Club “for the foreseeable future”.
The club will close on 31 January after Burns Night.
However, one club member, who did not wish to be named, said he did not want to use the Royal Scots Club because “they have a different kind of people there. It’s entirely different. It’s not the same. It’s more military”.
Another member expressed anger at the sudden announcement.
“I paid my annual membership just a month or two ago and there was no warning of what was about to happen. I want an immediate refund.”
Edinburgh members currently pay a one-off joining fee of £277 and an annual subscription of £277.
The ROSL first opened at North Charlotte Street in 1927 before moving to its current location three years later.
Activities include cultural and social events. It prides itself on championing international friendships. The London ROSL is based at Park Place near Buckingham Palace. The organisation has 16,000 members worldwide and has reciprocal links with clubs around the world.
Facilities include a viewing platform on the roof with views of Edinburgh Castle and the city’s skyline, a club room, restaurant, bar, conference space and 20 en-suite rooms.
The ROSL operates a strict dress code. The following items of clothing are not permitted in its public areas – torn, dirty, bleached or distressed jeans, vests, T-shirts, collarless shirts unless covered up, flip flops or Crocs, hot pants or micro skirts, cropped tops or trainers. Members in sportswear are told not to “linger” in its public spaces.
The building was designed in 1879 by Robert Patterson. Since 2011, improvement projects include the club’s slate roof being replaced and extensive repairs to the facade.
Dr Diana Owen, director general of ROSL, said: “The Royal Over-Seas League plays an important role at the heart of Edinburgh’s cultural scene and this will be safeguarded while we review the future of our listed building.
“The partnership with the Royal Scots Club will enable us to provide home-away-from-home clubhouse facilities for members who visit or live in Edinburgh.
“Our active ROSL Edinburgh committee will continue its great work in organising a wide range of community events for Scottish members including monthly coffee mornings and arts lunches, and celebratory dinners marking key dates in the Scottish calendar. We are pleased these will be hosted by the Royal Scots Club.”