When Taylor Harper shook King Charles’ hand, she had to pinch herself to make sure it wasn’t all a dream.
As the first girl to join the Boys’ Brigade in the Buchan Battalion, it was only fitting she was the one to lead this memorable meeting upon the group’s 140th anniversary.
Donning the distinctive navy blue uniform, the 15-year-old, from New Aberdour, joined His Majesty with four of her comrades at the Braemar Gathering to mark the occasion.
Minutes before he was whisked off back to Balmoral Castle, The King presented her with a brass baton, topped with the Boys’ Brigade logo.
It contained a special message from him, congratulating the north branches on carrying on the long-standing traditions of teamwork and camaraderie among youngsters.
King Charles breaks the ice with ‘lots of laughs’
But for Taylor and her friends, the biggest reward was their brief but memorable encounter with The King himself.
Perhaps naturally, the boys and girls found the experience of meeting a royal up close a “bit scary” at first.
But His Majesty was quick to break the ice with a few jokes and put them at ease.
Taylor explained a bit more about the vital work the Boys’ Brigade and the Girls’ Association do and shared how much she’s learnt since she joined four years ago.
All of this was met with a kind smile and a few nods of approval by King Charles.
Taylor said: “I didn’t expect it to be so good, but I really enjoyed myself and The King was really nice.
“He just give me a lot of laughs, and I think he was really happy with what he heard.”
Youngsters bonding with His Majesty over school experience and exams
Ruary McDonald, who has been with the Boys’ Brigade for 12 years, was no stranger to mingling with royals – having previously met the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.
But meeting The King was a different experience all together.
The pair bonded over how daunting school can be sometimes and the stress of upcoming exams.
With a chuckle, His Majesty shared he is happy he no longer has to do any of that – given his troublesome time studying at Gordonstoun in Moray.
The 17-year-old, from Fraserburgh Academy, said: “I didn’t hear him at first, but he asked how school was going – saying it must be hard.
“It was quite shocking when we saw him coming down the stairs towards us. But he was really nice to us, and I’m glad I got to be there, representing the Boys’ Brigade.”
Baton begins hundreds-mile journey to mark Boys’ Brigade anniversary
The baton, which was previously used for the Buchan Batallion’s centenary celebrations in 1983, will now travel all across the north and north-east by foot, air and water.
It will visit all Boys’ Brigade companies north of Stonehaven, as well as community centres and landmarks, where The King’s message will be read out to all involved.
President of the north area James Allan said: “Covering a large area – from cities to remote rural communities – the baton relay will give an opportunity for all to take part.
“Starting with The King, we hope it will spread the good news of the Boys’ Brigade around the north and make our members feel more connected to other young people.”