Royalty in the Highlands: the Balmoral Effect.

Queen Victoria at Balmoral, attended by John Brown in 1863. An iconic photograph taken by George Washington Wilson, two years after the death of Prince Albert. Victoria and Albert first leased Balmoral in 1848, and actually took possession of it in 1852. Just over 100 years earlier, the Jacobite army had been defeated at Culloden, and a process of attempting to 'anglicize' the Highlands had begun. Just how huge a shift in attitudes over that 100 years is clear from all the tartan, the music, and the literature in which the Royal Couple revelled, creating a bond between the two countries that is still felt to this day.

Queen Victoria's first official visit to Scotland took place in 1842, the tour recorded in some detail in Dick Lauder's Royal Progress in Scotland. She was already an avid fan of the works of Sir Walter Scott, and must have been impressed by the welcome she received north of the border. The remarkable display involving lights at Taymouth must have made a deep impression on the young queen:  There were lighting effects everywhere: "The trunks of the trees were converted into picturesque  and irregular columns of fire, and their branches became covered with clusters of sparkling rubies, emeralds, topazes, and diamonds, like the fairy fruit in the gardens if the genii..." A firework display began precisely at 10 o'clock, "the very highest style of excellence that the pyrotechnical art could produce...One splendid effect was created by the sudden evolution of a grand triumphal arch from the midst of a blaze of light, crowned by the words 'Long Live the Queen' in large and brilliant letters....The Queen enjoyed much of this spectacle of matchless splendour from the windows of her own private apartments...." It was a wet evening, but the sight of the dancing that took place below her windows "so much amused and interested [her]...that ...she maintained her position on the balcony for about an hour."

This 1842 tour did not go further north than Taymouth, but it must have given her a feeling for Highland hospitality which inspired the couple to take on the lease at Balmoral in 1848 without even viewing the property.

So, in early September, the couple arrived by boat at Aberdeen, and soon after caught sight of the Castle for the first time, a home that was to cement their relationship with the Highlands, and which still provides a strong bond between the Royal Family and Scotland.

Wherever they went, they were feted, with triumphal arches constructed over the roads along which they would be travelling. And the crowds turned out in their hundreds, no matter how long the wait, nor the weather - as seen below. The ladies in the background are all under umbrellas, while the men stand proudly in their finery, unprotected (this, an Inverness CDV, place unknown. Probably from a later visit).

The Illustrated London News faithfully recorded other visits to Scotland: left, a deer stalking expedition with Prince Albert in 1858 (the queen looking less than happy!), below, a picnic at Cairn Lochan in 1861, shortly before the death of her husband (Albert died in December of that year), and right and below left, two images from a visit in 1880 (at the Falls of Glassalt, and sketching at Loch Callater).

Other Royal dignitaries would be invited to experience what the Highlands had to offer [Left: an Indian Prince returning from a days shooting, and below, the Shah of Persia, looking utterly bemused amidst the dancing at the Gillies Ball, Glenmuick. Both dated 1889].

The Crown Prince of Prussia, entering firmly into the Highland spirit. Presumably Frederick III who married Victoria's eldest daughter.

And if the guest couldn't make it to Scotland, Highland culture could be brought to them (though I think it brought any conversation to an abrupt halt!) Right, the visit of the Czar of Russia, at Windsor in 1874.

Excitement was laid on for Victoria's grandchildren, seen here at Mar Lodge, Balmoral. On the right is Princess Alexandra.

Princess Alexandra, in elaborate fancy dress, as Mary Queen of Scots.

One of Victoria's daughters, Louise, chose slightly controversially to marry a Scottist aristocrat, the Duke of Argyll, rather than a Prince.  The marriage was welcomed in Britain, as is shown by a number of elaborate music covers, such as the one here (see my page of music covers for more examples).

Below are other music covers that celebrate the Royal connection with Scotland.

Ross, Her Majesty's Highland Piper.

"The Monarch Stag. The Prince Consort killed a Royal Stag in the Forest of Glengelder which weighed 24 stone. This is believed to have been the Champion of the Forest. When brought to Balmoral he was laid at the main entrance to the Castle, that the Queen and Royal Family might see his Royalty." Clearly, they kept the best stags for the Royals.

The Lord of the Isles, here in the person of the future Edward VII. Since the 15th century, the eldest male heir to the throne (English since the Union) has been the Lord of the Isles.

Going into the 20th century, the Royal Family continued the connection with Scotland. They travelled in some style:

Preparing the Royal Train in 1937.

Edward VII took every opportunity to dress the younger generation in the Highland fashion.

And like his mother, he was partial to a picnic, complete with piper.

And so it continued....

Queen Elizabeth II at Rothes Pit in 1958.

....even if at times, the weather could be a little unkind.

Princess Margaret battling with the elements at Balmoral in 1959.