Councillor shares memories of Scottish summers in the Queen’s company

Sunday 18th September 2022 4:00 pm
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The Braemar Gathering, where councillor for The Bourne, Carole Cockburn, recalls the Royal Family ‘laughing and clapping as enthusiastically as the next family’
The Braemar Gathering, where councillor for The Bourne, Carole Cockburn, recalls the Royal Family ‘laughing and clapping as enthusiastically as the next family' (Creative Commons )

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Many of us will have fond memories of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As a young mother in the 70s and 80s, I found myself, with a baby and a toddler, living in a delightful small town on Royal Deeside in Scotland, writes Carole Cockburn, councillor for The Bourne in Farnham.

As the Queen’s coffin made its way from Balmoral to Aberdeen on Sunday, along the A93, memories came flooding back.

The royal family would drive through Banchory every summer and stay for the Braemar Gathering in September, which we, too, always enjoyed as a family.

There was very little sign of security and we would all go down to the small High Street to wave to the cars as they made their way to Balmoral from the airport.

My mother didn’t believe my story, so we made sure her next long stay with us was over that period. The following summer Granny joined us on the High Street and couldn’t believe her eyes. Not only did she clearly see the Queen and several members of the royal family but a young Princess Anne was driving one of the cars. It was all true!

Later that same year, we were driving Granny round many of the lovely roads in the area when we passed Prince Charles, as he then was, driving himself around the countryside. The children waved to him, as though it was the most natural thing in the world to meet a prince – Granny was speechless!

The Braemar Gathering was another revelation for my mother. We once sat very close to the Queen and her family, all of whom were laughing and clapping as enthusiastically as the next family.

It is true the royal party was picked up in the arena and the royal car was not pulled out of a soggy field by a tractor at the end of proceedings, but there was very little unnecessary formality surrounding the Queen’s annual visit.

It was lovely to see the obvious affection of the residents of Ballater for the late Queen. I taught for some time at Aboyne Academy and the children from Ballater, the closest village to Balmoral, all had stories of meeting the royal family, many in the shops and hotels their parents owned or ran.

It was hardly surprising the late Queen enjoyed her stays on Royal Deeside. She brought so much love and joy to the area she cherished and that love was reciprocated in great measure by young and old.

I was lucky enough to meet the late Queen on several, more formal, occasions over the years. The warmth and sincerity of her smile as she carried out her public duties remained to the end, of course, but my family will never forget the delightful informality of our first glimpses of the Queen and her family – another family enjoying life in some of the most beautiful scenery in the United Kingdom.

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