The Grampian Highland Games were held in Braemar this weekend, the first time an event of its kind has gone ahead since the start of the pandemic.
The Games took place in Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park on on Saturday August 14.
Donning his kilt, Prince Charles attended the event organised by Grampian Games Association alongside the Highland Games Association.
The Duke of Rothsay, as he is known in Scotland, got involved by judging the infamous tug o’ war and kicking off the hill race.
He was seen shaking hands with highland dancers, cheering on participants and even enjoying a whisky.
Jim Brown, event chairman said: “The Prince took the time to chat to many of the competitors who had not had the opportunity to meet or compete together for the past two years.
“The Prince also kindly agreed to judge some of the tug o’ war competitions, officially start the Hill Race and presented Mrs Alison Milne of Huntly with The Peter Nicol Award for over 50 years’ service to Highland dancing at Games in the North East and around Scotland.
“We were honoured and humbled that The Prince took the time to join us today and how special that he continues to encourage us all in the importance of traditions and sportsmanship that we work so hard to protect and promote in all Highland Games across the country.”
This year’s competitors took part in classic events including heavies, Highland dancing, tug o’ war, light athletics, solo piping and a hill race.
Many of the events were filmed and can be watched on the Royal Scottish Highland Games Association Facebook page.
The Duke of Rothesay has taken on the role of patron for the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA), the sport’s governing body.
He is the organisation’s first ever royal patron, and the body hopes his support will safeguard the future of the Highland games for years to come.
Along with the Queen, Prince Charles is a regular at the Braemar Gathering, which is one of the most famous Highland events in the world, attracting thousands ever year.
He first attended the event in 1955.
The duke is also the chieftain of the Mey Highland Games, a role he took on following the death of the Queen Mother.
Years without the Games
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most Highland Games events have been cancelled for the second year running.
The only other Games that are set to go ahead later this month are those in Oban.
The location was chosen not only because it is home to the Braemar Gathering, but because it had enough space for social distancing to be maintained, even though the country moved beyond restrictions last week.
Despite usually bringing in thousands of spectators, tickets for this year’s events were limited to 850 lucky people.
Organisers hoped that they would keep the spirit of the Games alive by going ahead with them this year, even at a limited capacity, referring to the event a “a glimmer of hope.”
The events bring crucial attention to local businesses everywhere they are held, and a boost to the tourism sector.
Before this weekend Mr Brown said: “After two years of total cancellations we are keen to encourage our loyal athletes, dancers and pipers and show them and the public that the spirit of our beloved games is very much alive.
“We have observed all the regulations.”