KING Charles has been officially welcomed to Balmoral by a guard of honour featuring a Shetland pony for the first time since he came to the throne.

Traditionally the monarch inspects troops when taking up residence at the castle during the summer break.

A small ceremony was held outside the gates of Balmoral Castle on Monday, with a Guard of Honour formed of the Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, under the Command of Major Robert Weir.

Shetland pony Corporal Cruachan IV, mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, received a rub on the nose from the King – who was recently announced as Colonel-in-Chief, succeeding his mother in the role.

The Pipes and Drums of 4 SCOTS also performed at the ceremony.

When King Charles's visited Scotland for his mini-coronation in July, he was faced with protests and the arrest of several anti-monarchy activists

Last year the ceremony was held privately for the late Queen’s comfort.