Visitors at the Highland Games in Ballater had two very special reasons to celebrate the occasion.
That’s because they were given the chance to celebrate a guest appearance by royalty and the 100th birthday of its beloved chieftain.
The Duke of Rothesay officially opened the event by raising the flag high above Monaltrie Park in the Deeside town – but not before he enjoyed a welcome nip of his favoured dram Laphroaig, which was offered to him in a quaich by Alan Caig, the president of Clan Farquharson in the UK.
This year’s games, which have been running almost every year since 1864, also welcomed back the famed Lonach Highlanders to Ballater, where they had not marched since 1987.
Resplendent in their full Highland attire, the men toured the arena before Prince Charles, with pony Corporal Cruachan IV, the regimental mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, bringing up the rear.
Later, there were such diverse attractions as traditional Scottish music, athletics and dancing, while the crowds gathered to welcome war hero Captain Alwyne Farquharson to the park, in his 71st year as chieftain.
Captain Farquharson, who turned 100 years old in May, received a standing ovation as he proudly marched alongside a guard of honour.
He said later: “I tried to keep myself as upright as possible and keep in step properly in military style, which is getting a little bit trickier these days.
“But thankfully, I’ve been able to use my fantastic new stick which I was presented with last year to mark my 70th year as chieftain.
“It’s just been a wonderful, spectacular experience and it is of course so special to have the Lonach men join us here again.
“The weather this year has been very unsettled, so I’m overjoyed that we’ve had such great weather blessing us for this year’s games.
“Looking around the park today, it seems that there has been a fantastic turnout, with a very big crowd.
“These games really are very, very special indeed.”
At the head of the chieftain’s procession this year was banner-bearer Jim Payne, 72, who travelled all the way to Deeside from his home in Arizona alongside his wife Gale.
He said: “Last year, we came to visit for 12 days, but we loved Ballater and its people so much that this year we’ve returned for a month.
“I was absolutely thrilled, and it’s really an amazing honour for me to hold the banner.”
In addition to visitors from America, the games welcomed tourists from all corners of the globe, including New Zealand, Canada and Germany.
Normandy resident Jacky Le Roux was visiting Ballater with three friends.
He said: “It’s really wonderful and moving at the same time, the games are simply amazing and authentic.
“We weren’t expecting to see Prince Charles, so it was quite surprising and really enjoyable as well.”
Games chairman John Sinclair added: “His Royal Highness was fantastic as always, the competitors always appreciate it when he stops to wish them good luck.
“Welcoming the Lonach Highlanders back to Ballater as well has been brilliant, it was great seeing them for the first time as chairman.
“And, of course, it has been a most special year for our chieftain, and I really hope he has enjoyed himself.”