What is it like reporting from Balmoral? - Alison Campsie

Reporter Alison Campsie at Balmoral Castle following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. PIC: Contributed.Reporter Alison Campsie at Balmoral Castle following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. PIC: Contributed.
Reporter Alison Campsie at Balmoral Castle following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. PIC: Contributed.
Balmoral Castle will now always be linked to work and covering one of the biggest news assignments I’ll likely ever have.

When the broadcast on the radio faltered on September 8 2022, I knew I was heading to Balmoral for an extended stay with my laptop, phone and my black suit, which had thankfully just been dry cleaned.

Earlier, there had been some quiet chat in the newsroom that Queen Elizabeth had died with the long organised protocols for that moment moving into place before the official announcement was made.

News conference was called, and I was on my way.

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As I drove up the Slug Road from Stonehaven to just outside Banchory and then further west on the ever-winding route into the hills, any sense of shock or sadness at the news was replaced with the practical necessities of covering an event of such huge impact, for both state and public. While not everyone supports the monarchy, the death of a monarch, particularly one of such long reign, was something that was going to require steady handling and a fair bit of stamina.

Skies darkened en route and by the time I had parked my car, the weather gods were dealing a foreboding hand.

The first hurdle, of course, was security and my entry to car park area was a little bumpy given I had no press pass, which had long lapsed and never updated due to Covid and the long spell of being desk bound. A few telephone calls and emails later, and I was allowed in. I made my way up to the castle gates and was perhaps surprisingly surprised that people had already started to gather.

It was quickly clear the level of emotion that was felt. At that point, all that was known was members of the Royal Family had been called to Balmoral, their cars disappearing through the gates in those remaining hours before the official announcement was made.

Rain came and the reporter’s lot of finding a plug and a reliable signal in deep Deeside kicked in. There were plenty of words to write, even in those earliest of stages and sodden notebooks were filled with shorthand that struggled to hold in the rain.

Over the next day or two, there were growing banks of the world’s media, flowers and those wishing to pay their respects. I don’t think I have ever covered a story where people were so willing to speak. Queen Elizabeth II, her long reign and the continuity she represented in people’s lives was clear. Those who had travelled far and wide to the castle gats expressed the loss of an anchor and a hesitation over how things would now be. The depth of emotion and occasion was immersive - and I doubt I’ll experience the likes again.

What also emerged during those days was how important Balmoral and Deeside was to the late Queen and her family. On the day Elizabeth II left Balmoral for the last time, castle staff and the gamekeepers who had become such an important part of her life lifted her coffin into the hearse and placed a wreath made from the her favourite flowers and plants from the estate with her. They were quiet, simple expressions of a place and people held so dear.



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