'˜I trod on the Queen's toes during dance'- former bodyguard

TREADING on the Queen's toes was perhaps not the best start to a formal dance at Balmoral.

John Ross, centre, with colleagues at Balmoral Castle. Picture: contributed

But a former head of her royal bodyguard lived to tell the tale – despite fears his blunder would land him in the Tower.

John Ross, former Company Sergeant Major of the Balmoral Queen’s Guard, relived the incident ahead of the monarch’s 90th birthday this week.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The ex-Warrant Officer, originally from Dalkeith, has written a personal message to the Queen for a unique online book created to mark the milestone.

He had observed all the niceties of royal protocol when he requested the pleasure of the first dance at the Ghillies’ Ball in the Great Hall.

All was going well until half way through The Dashing White Sergeant when he accidentally overstepped the mark, only to be reassured by Her Majesty that having two left feet was not treasonable.

He said: “The Royal Piper came up to me and said ‘I would like to introduce you to the Queen’. I then asked her to dance and half way through the Dashing White Sergeant I stood on her toes.

“It was a dreadful moment. My heart was in my mouth. I thought I was going to end up in the Tower.

“I said ‘I’m sorry Your Majesty’ and she whispered ‘It’s OK. Don’t worry about it’.”

John, 61, served for a quarter of a century in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers regiment helping to protect the royals on their visits to Balmoral.

Describing it as “the greatest honour and privilege I ever had throughout my army career”, he also recalled the close relationship he and his 150-strong team developed with the royal family as they accompanied them on hunts and fishing and walking trips.

He added: “They were so much fun to work for during the holiday period – they made all the soldiers feel at ease.

“One of Her Majesty’s priorities was looking after the welfare of the soldiers who were responsible for providing support for all events.

“She tasted our packed lunches to check they were up to scratch, and visited the troops at Victoria Barracks. The Queen loved keeping in contact with the serving soldiers to ensure they were enjoying the experience.”

John was one of five brothers who served at the same time – the largest number of recruits from the same family in the army’s history – and racked up 122 years’ service between them.

Two of the siblings – John and Robert – are thought to be the only two brothers to have served back-to-back as Sgt Maj of the Balmoral Queen’s Guard,

John’s is just one of hundreds of memories entered into thequeensbirthdaybook.com, a collection of messages, photos and film.

Anyone can contribute by adding their birthday messages or their personal stories of meeting the Queen, and share photos and videos of their street parties and celebrations on her official birthday weekend on June 10 to June 12.

As well as capturing a huge display of public affection and gratitude, the book will also raise funds for the hundreds of charities.

It also contain birthday wishes from a host of celebrities including Dame Vera Lynn, Lorraine Kelly, Alan Titchmarsh, Simon Pegg, Dame Kelly Holmes and Brian May.