All gather at Braemar

A rare photograph of Her Majesty on her first visit to the Braemar Gathering, with her grandparents.
A rare photograph of Her Majesty on her first visit to the Braemar Gathering, with her grandparents.

The Braemar Royal Highland Gathering which takes place on Saturday (September 1) is always a colourful and much anticipated event and brings down the curtain on the traditional games and gathering season for another year.

Once again the patron is Her Majesty the Queen.

Events get underway in the The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park at 9.30 a.m. and the first March of the massed pipe bandsis at 12 noon.

Gatherings have been staged on and off at Braemar since the reign of King Malcolm Canmore in the 11th century, although there are suggestions of the first being staged some 200 years earlier.

In 1832 the Braemar Royal Highland Society, a wrights or friendly society, took over the organisation of the annual gathering and grew it to the worldwide recognised event that it is today.

Queen Victoria’s interest in the event and her command that it be staged in the grounds of Balmoral Castle led to her Patronage of the event and each reigning monarch since has accepted the same role.

HM Queen Elizabeth II first attended the Gathering at the age of seven with her parents and grand parents in 1933.

On her accession to the throne she became Patron of the BRHS and has been present at almost every Gathering since. Remarkably, she has missed the event only four times in her 60 year reign, as the result of two family deaths in the 1970s; when she chose to see her daughter Anne compete in the International Horse Trials in 1971 and following an extensive tour of Canada in 1959.

Each year at the Gathering - on the first Saturday in September - she is joined by her husband and several members of her family for an afternoon at the event.

The Gathering attracts crowds of around 20,000, including many foreign visitors, who are entertained by a range of athletes from both the international and local stage.

Events cover a spectrum from the 80 metre British Sprint Championship to a local children’s sack race alongside Inter-Services tug-o-war and athletics competitions, a challenging hill race, traditional Heavy events (tossing the caber, throwing hammers and weights etc.), the cream of Highland dancers and of course the sound of individual and massed pipe bands.

Entrance charge at the gate (non-ticket holders) is £10; Children, under 14 years, £2. No dogs permitted within the Games Field.