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Stall order: When it was the Queen’s duty to serve biscuits at a north-east fundraiser

Queen Elizabeth hard at work at the memorable sale of work on Royal Deeside, 65 years ago.
Queen Elizabeth hard at work at the memorable sale of work on Royal Deeside, 65 years ago.

The Queen often speaks of her duty to serve – and 65 years ago that involved selling biscuits to the public at a north-east sale-of-work.

In fact, the whole of the royal family mucked in for the event at Abergeldie Castle, organised by the Queen Mother as a fundraiser for Crathie Kirk.

The Queen Mother, the Queen and Princess Margaret get down to business at the sale-of-work, with Princess Anne ready to start selling postcards.

The Queen was put to work selling biscuits, Princess Margaret was on household goods, the Duke of Edinburgh was running the provisions stall, while Prince Charles was selling heather at sixpence and Princess Anne offering postcards for fourpence.

There was an added glamour to the event as Princess Margaret was celebrating her 25th birthday the next day. It involved a glittering ball at Balmoral Castle – with the main course including roasts from an Aberdeen Angus picked out from a nearby field by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne watch with interest as their mother, the Queen, unpacks a basket of goods on to the stall at which she was serving in a sale-of-work at Abergeldie Castle.

He was reported to have seen the beast and said: “That’s the very thing for Margaret’s birthday party.”

The sale-of-work was an extraordinary event that garnered headlines and generated pages of photographs for newspapers and magazines around the world – and even merited its own Pathe newsreel story.

The sale-of-work, which was to pay for a new vestry at the kirk used by the royal family while in Royal Deeside, was the first of its kind for about 20 years.

The Queen Mother oversaw all the arrangements and on the day huge crowds flocked to the marquees and tents put up in the grounds of Abergeldie – none of them put off by the five shillings admission fee (and another five shillings if you wanted to park your car).

The royal family pictured with boys enjoying the annual King’s Camp at Abergeldie Castle in 1939.

For the event, a temporary post office was put up in the grounds of the castle. That meant anyone buying one of Princess Anne’s postcards could post it straight away, franked “Abergeldie Castle, Aberdeen”.

The royal family had a long association with Abergeldie Castle, about two miles from Balmoral, and rented it between 1848 and 1970. In 1939, the royal family made headlines – and another newsreel – by joining in the fun and games of the annual King’s Camp for boys held in the grounds of the castle.

King George VI  tries out an Aunt Sally throw at the King’s Camp at Abergeldie in 1939.

Over the years the royals, from Queen Victoria on, were frequent visitors to the castle.

Queen Victoria at Abergeldie with her granddaughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife, in 1890.

And, of course, the royal connection with Crathie Kirk lasts to this day – and the Queen and other members of her family often drop by the church’s fundraising sale-of-work.

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