Empress’s wishes

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You refer to the forthcoming auction of some of Queen Victoria’s letters and personal items (your report, 17 August). However, Queen Victoria never signed herself “VR1”, as you stated. It is not customary in Britain for a monarch to be numbered “the First” until there is a “Second” of that name.

Her Majesty’s signature would have been VRI (Victoria Regina Imperatrix), Latin for “Victoria Queen Empress”, which title she assumed on becoming Empress of India in 1877.

Secondly, to state that the Duke of Atholl had “an apparent tendency to travel with a substantial entourage” is misleading. On a royal occasion, the Duke would travel with his private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

The Queen presumably did not wish this force to arrive in all its glory at Balmoral – even though she had honoured the regiment by conferring Colours on them in 1845, thereby giving royal recognition to the only officially sanctioned private army in Britain.

Although now ceremonial, the Atholl Highlanders are still responsible for the defence of Blair Castle and its surrounding estates.

Alison Halley

Newbattle Abbey Crescent

Dalkeith