Crowds packed the heart of Ballater to welcome The Queen and Prince Philip as she unveiled a new plaque to commemorate her diamond jubilee on Thursday.
The plaque is set above a cairn of 60 stones, each stone to mark one year of her reign, and was designed by a group of Ballater residents.
The Monarch arrived just after 6pm in the village from near by Balmoral castle and was greeted by James Ingleby, Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire who presented Gordon Bruce, one of the residents behind the project.
Earlier, hundreds of spectators were thrilled by the sounds of Ballater Pipe Band who marched to the cairn on Church Green as the Royal car followed behind.
Ballater’s jubilee cairn project was conceived by lifetime Ballater residents Gordon Bruce and Alistair Cassie.
Earlier in the year the two embarked on the project which was funded to the tune of £1,500 by local residents and visitors.
The sixty stones used to construct the cairn were collected locally, including from Balmoral estate. The stones are set within a bed of mixed heathers and the centrepiece stone was obtained from the Inver Quarry and engraved with “Queen Elizabeth II: 1952 Jubilee 2012” by a specialist from Tarland.
Mr Bruce, of Braemar Road, said: “The night showed the tremendous community spirit there is in the village. The Royalty has done amazing things for Ballater and we wanted to pay them back.”
“We raised the funds in no time, people offered us hundreds of pounds and we had to say no. The local blacksmiths carried out the work free of charge.”
Mr Cassie, who runs the hardware shop in the village, said: “We treated every donation the same: a pound from a pensioner was treated the same as 100 pounds from a millionaire.”
“Last night was the icing on the cake, the Queen was very relaxed and had a great sense of humour. She talked to us about the local history and shops in the village, I couldn’t have asked for a better evening.”
She was then presented with flowers by three-year old Hazera Hamid and her five-year-old sister Kolsuma, from Ramsay Road, Stonehaven. Dad Abdul runs a restaurant in Ballater and brought the children especially for the royal visit.
She went on to meet more residents and children of the village before leaving along a route lined with flaming torches in the style Queen Victoria left the town during her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Hundreds lined the streets and waved Union and Saltire flags as she passed. The evening finished with three cheers for the Monarch.
If you would like further information on the Ballater cairn project visit: www.60years60stones.weebly.com
See this week’s Piper for more photographs.