Queen Elizabeth II: Royal holiday snaps among former Moderator’s memories of Balmoral

A former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who preached at Crathie Kirk in Aberdeenshire on the morning The Queen began her final journey, has revealed his own treasured memories of meetings with the late Monarch.

The Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison spoke of The Queen showing him holiday snaps, and of encountering her while paying a game of patience.

Dr Morrison preached at Crathie Kirk several times during his Moderatorial year in 2015-16 which included a weekend stay at Balmoral Castle.

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He deputised this morning for parish minister, Rev Ken MacKenzie who is part of the funeral cortege travelling to Edinburgh.

The Reverend Dr Angus Morrison (Pic: John Young)
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He spoke of how the Queen’s “genuine personal interest and humanity” helped to dispel any sense of nerves as he arrived at the castle.

He said: “Escorted to the drawing room, I found the Queen sitting at a small table playing the game of patience.

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“After friendly greetings, she resumed her seat, with me sitting close by.

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“She continued to play as we engaged in conversation. It struck me as a very kind means of helping the visitor to relax, having us both focus on the table and cards.

“As the conversation developed, the Queen gave increasingly less attention to the game and became quite animated as we spoke.

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“While one always remained very aware of who this extraordinary person, of such presence, was, the Queen’s genuine personal interest and humanity soon dispelled any sense of nervous unease.”

The former Moderator also told of how the Queen shared photos of a family holiday on the Royal Yacht, Britannia.

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It came just before his first visit to Balmoral.

“The Queen, Prince Philip and various generations of the Royal Family had been on their summer holiday, cruising around the Western Isles.

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“Aware of my Hebridean connections, the Queen wanted to show me some holiday snaps.

“These included picnics with the children on some lovely beaches.

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“For a few moments, you felt it could have been any devoted grandmother speaking of the fun they had.

“Pointing to one little lad she said, ‘If you turned your back on that rascal for an instant, you’d find him up at the top of a cliff!”

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Towards the end of each season at Balmoral, it was The Queen’s custom to present members of her staff there with a gift.

Dr Morrison was invited to accompany her to the ballroom.

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They met first in the library where a horse race was underway, and one of The Queen’s own horses was competing.

“We stood in the middle of the floor, with Her Majesty clutching her handbag, for what felt like a rather long time.

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“The Queen’s commentary as the race progressed, especially when another horse appeared to cut across hers, was interesting.

“Tea was served in the ballroom, and, with a cup in her hand, the Queen worked one half of the room, while my job was to chat to those in the other half.

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“She presented a beautifully illustrated book about British flora and fauna to all of the staff present.

“One strong impression that remains with me from that occasion was the way in which the Queen gave to each individual her full attention, as she presented their book.