Their friendship transcended the gulf between royalty and their staff and was turned into a Bafta-winning film.
And now, a hunting rifle gifted by Queen Victoria to her loyal servant John Brown has been acquired by National Museums Scotland.
The artefact will go on public display for the first time in a major exhibition this summer, Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland.
It features the prized armament which was given by the Queen to the man, whose relationship with the monarch was chronicled in the movie Mrs Brown, starring Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly.
The item features a plaque fitted into the butt of the double-barrelled hammer rifle, which records that Queen Victoria presented it to Mr Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873. It was made that year by noted Edinburgh gun maker Alexander Henry.
Dr Patrick Watt, curator of the exhibition, said: “This a tremendously significant acquisition for National Museums Scotland.
“It is a stunning object which shows directly the connection and the affection between Queen Victoria and John Brown.
“The high-quality design and obvious expense of the gift highlights the position of trust and esteem in which the Queen held her loyal servant.
“We are delighted to be putting it on display in Wild and Majestic. In the exhibition, we explore the reality behind the romantic fascination with Scotland that spread across the world and infatuated Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert as they created their Highland idyll at Balmoral.”
Mr Brown had worked on the Deeside estate since 1842, and rose in the Queen’s favour to special status as Her Majesty’s Highland Servant.
After the death of her husband, he supported her in her grief. Gossip soon spread about her closeness to Brown and his influence over the royal household.
When he died unexpectedly in 1883, the Queen wrote to his brother Hugh: ‘We have lost the best, the truest heart that ever beat!’
The exhibition, from June 26 to November 10, also features a tartan dress belonging to the Queen, a Highland uniform worn by Brown in his role as personal servant, a memorial tie pin commissioned by the Queen for her staff to wear on the anniversary of Brown’s death and a Gaelic edition of her journal.
There will be more than 300 objects on display, spanning the period from the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746 to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.