On Saturday, Her Majesty The Queen made a surprise visit to Aboynein Scotland to officially open their annual Highland Games, which this year celebrate their 150th anniversary. This is the first time The Queen attended the games without the Duke of Edinburgh, who officially retired from royal duties last week, where she met with competitors and local townspeople.
The Queen was welcomed by the event’s chieftain, Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, and the games chairman, Alistair Grant. Mr Grant said: “It was an honour and a privilege to welcome Her Majesty to Aboyne Highland Games to mark our 150th anniversary.
“She took a real interest in how our new Aboyne caber was crafted and seemed particularly taken to learn about the visits her ancestors had made to the games.
“Our first royal visit was in 1873, when the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, attended, and it is wonderful to continue that long association with the royal family today.”
The Queen officially opened the games when she dedicated a specially commissioned celebratory caber by anointing it with a dram of whisky. The commemorative caber was held by local athletes Jamie Dawkins and John Fyvie during the short ceremony and measures 23ft 6 in in length and weighs in at approximately 130lbs. Competitors delighted the gathered crowds by tossing the caber end over end on the town’s green to try and achieve the perfect 12 o’clock position.
Mr Grant said: “We have had a superb crowd on the green who have been kept thoroughly entertained by our packed programme of 98 events. The atmosphere has been excellent. Visitors have travelled from near and far, which goes to show the huge appeal that Highland Games still have. That is really positive for the future.”
Founded in 1867, the Aboyne Highland Games attract up to 10,000 visitors each year when it is held annually on the first Saturday in August. In addition to caber tossing traditional activities include piping and highland dancing.
The Queen’s presence suggests that she has now begun her summer sojourn at Balmoral, the Royal Family’s Scottish holiday home.