The Highland Games: a prince’s passion

The Prince of Wales tells BBC Countryfile Magazine of his love for the Games and his delight that they have found a fitting home

Highland Gathering

“The Highland Games season holds a special place in the heart of many Scots, including many members of my own family. Each year, the games and gatherings in villages and towns across Scotland conjure up a valuable sense of community spirit and offer a spectacle of traditional sports and entertainment that is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

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I attended my first Highland Games as a child over 60 years ago and have been lucky enough to experience one of the smallest at Mey, in Caithness, to the one of the largest at Braemar, in Royal Deeside. Each time I leave feeling enriched for having witnessed and met the wonderful people involved in organising and competing to such a high standard. The strength and will of the Heavies, the endless stamina of the hill-runners and the stirring atmosphere provided by the pipe bands and traditional dancers makes for a truly unique and varied day of entertainment.

Royals At Braemar Games Highland Gathering
The action at the 2006 Braemar Gathering keeps the Royal family entertained © Getty

The Games circuit and, in particular, the Braemar Gathering, attract thousands of spectators from home and overseas each year. However, when Games season is over, and during the period from October to April, there has been no permanent attraction in place for those curious or enthusiastic about traditional Highland sports… until now.

Prince Charles at Braemar Games
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne and Prince Charles at the Braemar Highland Games in 1957 © Getty

History and heroes

The new Duke of Rothesay Highland Games Pavilion is a long overdue celebration of a tradition that has taken place for hundreds of years. The exhibition within the new Pavilion in Braemar will reflect the history of Highland sports, past heroes and the reasons that the Games are revered not only in Scotland, but by communities across the world.

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As Patron of the Highland Games Association, when I learned of the plans by the Braemar Royal Highland Society to establish the Pavilion at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, I felt compelled to support the project in whatever way I could. Everyone has worked hard to put the finishing touches to a superb Pavilion that will serve the Royal Deeside community and visitors from all over the world all year round.”