Braemar Gathering draws the crowds

Highland dancers go through their paces in a busy competition. Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre
Highland dancers go through their paces in a busy competition. Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre

The Queen and other members of the Royal family were joined by around 15,000 Highland games enthusiasts for the Braemar Gathering at the weekend.

Saturday’s event at the Duke of Fife and Princess Royal Memorial Park even attracted the world of celebrity, with Dame Judi Dench among the spectators.

The hill race gets under way. Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre

The hill race gets under way. Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre

The Royal party’s traditional appearance at the event, which is the close of the games season on Deeside, drew particular attention.

There is always intense speculation each year about who will make the short journey from Balmoral to the games arena.

Also in attendance this year were the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne, and his wife, Autumn.

There was warm applause as the Royal visitors took their seats in the pavilion to watch a packed programme of dancing, piping and sport.

Taking the strain in the tug o' war. Picture: Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre

Taking the strain in the tug o' war. Picture: Picture: Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre

The Queen, patron of the Gathering, was presented with a bouquet by Kaitlin Frew, 11, the Duchess of Rothesay received flowers from Amelia Fraser, 10, and seven-year-old Eilidh Murdoch presented posies to Autumn Phillips.

The day began with the morning parade, with Ballater and District Pipe Band leading members of Braemar Royal Highland Society from the Invercauld Arms through the village and past the Fife Arms as they made their way to the Braemar Gathering and Highland Games Centre.

Visitors arrived from far and wide, including New Zealand and China.

A major attraction this year was the games’ heritage centre, which was opened by the Queen at last year’s Gathering.

On the field, Vlad Tulacek set a new record of 16ft 9in in the throwing the 56lb weight over bar one hand, open.

The ever-popular Morrone Hill Race was won by James Espie in a time of 25.33.

Organisers said it was an extremely competitive Gathering with some of the biggest numbers of entries seen in recent years, particularly in the open dancing classes.

Tributes were also paid to games legend Bill Anderson, who died last month aged 82.