The Queen has been officially welcomed to her private Scottish retreat of Balmoral Castle by a guard of honour – featuring a Shetland pony mascot.
Traditionally the Queen inspects troops when she takes up residence at the castle and, outside the gates, the head of state cast her eye over soldiers from Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The Pipes and Drums of the regiment’s 3rd Battalion performed during the ceremony and the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s mascot, Shetland Pony Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, also took part.
The monarch’s annual stay at Balmoral is the first time she has holidayed on her private estate since the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh.
Scotland has been a welcome place of sanctuary for the royal family since Queen Victoria’s day as they relax and enjoy country pursuits in the stunning setting of the Highlands.
The Queen is unlikely to be alone for very long as members of her family are invited to spend time with her at Balmoral every summer.
A picture released following Philip’s death in April showed the Queen and her late husband surrounded by their great-grandchildren at their Scottish home.
The Queen left for Scotland just over two weeks ago and is believed to have been staying at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral estate where she normally spends the initial period of her summer holiday.
The welcome ceremony was not performed last year due to the pandemic and the Queen took part in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Despite being on holiday, work still continues for the head of state as every day she receives from Government ministers, and from her representatives in the Commonwealth and foreign countries, information in the form of policy papers, Cabinet documents and other State papers for her attention.
These are sent up to her by private secretaries in the red boxes also used by Government ministers to carry confidential documents.