The Queen looked royal in blue as she attended Crathie Kirk yesterday on her annual late May flying visit to Balmoral.
Her Majesty is staying at the seven-bedroomed Craigowan Lodge on the estate about a mile from the castle which at the moment is open to tourists.
Also in the little grey church next to the castle was Dr Alan Gibb, a retired ear, nose and throat specialist, who will be 100 next Sunday and will be getting a telegram from the Queen who will have returned south by then.
She’s got a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday and is expected to leave from Aberdeen Airport tomorrow or on Tuesday.
The Queen always arrives at the end of May to be brought up to date on the running of the 50,000-acre estate which she owns privately outwith the Crown Estate.
Her Majesty is keen to have the estate as Eco-friendly as possible and has planted thousands of trees – at her own expense – on the upper reaches of the River Muick a tributary of the River Dee.
Her 4-strong Ranger Service patrols and watches over key wildlife species as well as offering advice and their expertise to the 50,000 visitors annually.
But the Queen still has a litter problem.
The estate website says: “Unfortunately too much time is spent picking up litter”.
By happy co-incidence the Queen’s visit coincided with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria who, with her husband Albert, first purchased Balmoral Castle in 1852.
The City of Leeds Pipe Band led the celebrations for visitors playing twice on the sweeping front lawn of the castle. The band had in its ranks a descendant of Angus Mackay, Queen Victoria’s first piper.
The Queen had a small private celebration at Craigowan with Prince Edward and his daughter, Lady Louise Windsor.
A source locally said: “It was a small but significant occasion.”