THE Queen has been officially welcomed to her private Scottish retreat of Balmoral Castle by a guard of honour – featuring a Shetland pony mascot.

Traditionally the Queen inspects troops when she takes up residence at the castle and, outside the gates, the head of state cast her eye over soldiers from Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The Pipes and Drums of the regiment’s 3rd Battalion performed during the ceremony and the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s mascot, Shetland Pony Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, also took part.

The National:

The monarch’s annual stay at Balmoral is the first time she has holidayed on her private estate since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen is unlikely to be alone for very long as members of her family are invited to spend time with her at Balmoral every summer.

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The National:

A picture released following Philip’s death in April showed the Queen and her late husband surrounded by their great-grandchildren at their Scottish home.

The Queen left for Scotland just over two weeks ago and is believed to have been staying at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral estate where she normally spends the initial period of her summer holiday.

The welcome ceremony was not performed last year due to the pandemic and the Queen took part in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.