Atholl Highlanders get set for Blair Castle parade

Final preparations are being made at a Highland castle for the annual parade of Europe's last private army which was created during Queen Victoria's travels to Scotland in 1844.The Atholl Highlanders Parade and Gathering will be held at Blair Castle, Blair Atholl on Saturday and Sunday.READ MORE: Lonach Highlanders to march at Edinburgh CastleThe regiment is made up of men from the surrounding estate with its gamekeeper and farm manager among those who will be marching along with sons of the its former caravan park manager.Also marching will be the sons of the 12th Duke of Atholl who lives in South Africa and won't be attending this year's event.Jane Anderson, archivist at Blair Castle, said: 'There is always a great buzz on the estate at this time of year. The Highlanders have been practising their marching for the last couple of weeks in the castle grounds.'READ MORE: A history of Scotland's Highland Games The regimental uniform of Murray tartan and a Glengarry hat had stayed much the same since the Atholl Highlanders were formed. A sprig of juniper is presented to each new recruit with the herb represented on the Murray family badge.While in the early days the men carried Lochaber axes, the Highlanders now carry rifles. However, their bodyguard role is purely ceremonial.The Atholl Highlanders were born out of a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1844.Two years earlier, Lord Glenlyon, later the 6th Duke of Atholl, took a bodyguard of his men to greet the Queen at Dunkeld, with several other local lairds. Ms Anderson said; 'There was dancing, piping and lunch and the Queen was said to be impressed with the Highlanders, as well as thoroughly entertained.' 'In May 1844, she returned to Blair Castle for a holiday with Prince Albert. The Atholl men stood guard during this stay of unprecedented informality when Albert stalked and the Queen enjoyed pony rides. 'In recognition of this service she granted the Highlanders the right to carry the Queen's colour and thus to bear arms.' 'The

A meeting of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Atholl Castle, Perthshire, in June 1971. PIC: TSPL.
A meeting of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Atholl Castle, Perthshire, in June 1971. PIC: TSPL.
The Atholl Highlander received new regimental colours in 2006 to marking the 40th anniversary of the revival of the Regiment .PIC: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Athol Highlanders parade at Blair Atholl Castle on May 27, 2006 PIC: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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Blair Atholl Highlanders cross The Telford Bridge over the Tay at Dunkeld on the 200th Anniversary of the bridge in 2009. PIC: Robert Perry/TSPL
The Duke of Atholl watches the Red Devil parachute team at a meeting of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Atholl Castle, Perthshire, in June 1971. PIC: TSPL
The Atholl Highlander received new regimental colours in 2006 to marking the 40th anniversary of the revival of the Regiment .PIC: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Athol Highlanders parade at Blair Atholl Castle on May 27, 2006 PIC: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Blair Atholl Highlanders cross The Telford Bridge over the Tay at Dunkeld on the 200th Anniversary of the bridge in 2009. PIC: Robert Perry/TSPL
The Duke of Atholl watches the Red Devil parachute team at a meeting of the Atholl Highlanders at Blair Atholl Castle, Perthshire, in June 1971. PIC: TSPL