Braemar Royal Society marks its 200th year

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Braemar Royal Highland Society, organisers of the famous Braemar Gathering, are this year celebrating their 200th anniversary.

The oldest Friendly Society in Scotland, it was formed in 1815 as the Braemar Wright Society. The entry fee to join was 10 shillings (50p) with a quarterly subscription of one shilling which entitled members to financial support in times of need.

The Society was re-constituted in July 1826 as the Braemar Highland Society and it was in 1832, that athletics competitions were first held by the Society.

By 1848, when Queen Victoria first attended the Gathering in the grounds of Invercauld House, the programme had expanded to include highland dancing, piping competitions and feats of strength. In 1866 the Queen ordered that “Royal” should be added to the name of the Society.

The annual royal presence, started by Queen Victoria, has ensured that pictures of the colourful event are regularly beamed all over the world.

This year, the organisers are promising a truly unforgettable occasion.

Secretary, William Meston, said: “We want to mark this moment in the history of the Society with an even more colourful and exciting programme.

“Both the Lonach and Atholl Highlanders will march across the hills to attend the Games with over 300 people in traditional highland dress marching on Saturday, September 5.

‘‘Twelve pipe bands will lead 100 Lonach Men, 80 Atholl Highlanders and 28 representatives from the Grampian and Scottish Highland Games Associations through the village, arriving in the Games Park at noon.

“Other events are also planned across the year. For the first time, we’ll be taking the shutters off the Royal Pavilion during the summer and it will be the venue for a new Games Exhibition. We will also unveil a presidents’ plaque to commemorate the 22 presidents of the Society.”

This year’s Braemar Gathering is set to take place, as usual, on the first weekend of September - Saturday, September 5.

Pipers and dancers will be of the usual high standard while teams from H.M. Forces will compete in the InterServices Unit Tug of War Championship and in the Services Medley Relay Race.

Tickets are now on sale for the Games from or telephone 013397 41098.