Precious stone with Royal connections

Finlay Briggs is pictured with the Cairngorm stone, which his great-great-grandfather presetned to Queen Victoria in 1851.
Finlay Briggs is pictured with the Cairngorm stone, which his great-great-grandfather presetned to Queen Victoria in 1851.

A precious stone with a Royal connection which was thought to be lost has been discovered - in the archive at Balmoral.

The Cairngorm stone - the most valuable of its kind - was given to Queen Victoria while she was staying at Balmoral in 1851 by James Grant, who found the quartz near Ryvoan in the Cairngorms. His family were from the area, and were moved during the Highland clearances.

James carried the stone to Balmoral over the mountains on horseback, and was rewarded with £50, “£1 per weight” (roughly £3700 today).

In recent years, James Grant’s descendants believed the stone to be lost, until it was discovered to be safely stored at the Queen’s summer home.

The family, including Kathryn Briggs, her brother Finlay, parents John and Sue, and daughter Lily, who are from the Stonehaven area, were invited to attend a church service with the Royal family on Sunday August 16, along with other descendants of James Grant.

In fact, it was an opportunity for many of those related to James Grant to meet for the first time.

Kathryn said: “James Grant was my great-great-grandfather. The family line has branched off in several directions, and we all met up on Saturday, many of us for the first time.”

25 members of the Grant family attended the church service on Sunday morning, where they were joined by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and their children, Louise and James.

After a service lasting an hour and a half, the family were invited to stay behind to view the Cairngorm stone at the church.

Kathryn said: “It was an amazing day, and we were seated just metres away from the Royals.

“After the service my brother Finlay, who had travelled over specially from his home in Norway, took the opportunity to hold the stone, and we realised that he was the first Grant to hold the stone since it was delivered to Balmoral 165 years ago!”

The stone was examined by the Antiques Roadshow when they filmed at Balmoral last month.

It was originally thought that a piece of the stone was chipped off to produce a brooch for Prince Albert, however Kathryn confirmed that this is in fact inaccurate, and the stone remains intact as it was presented 165 years ago.

It is thought that the Quuen will be in residence in Balmoral until September.