The royals in Scotland: A special and complicated relationship

The Queen had a particular love for Scotland, which lasted throughout her life, reports ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

The Queen’s love for Scotland was born on childhood trips to Balmoral - and endured her whole life.

We don’t choose our perfect time or place of passing. But it is in this nation that the Queen is said to have felt uniquely at ease - at peace among the people.

As her coffin was moved from the Balmoral Castle ballroom to Edinburgh, the world could see the beauty of the landscape she had so embraced throughout her reign. 

The River Dee glistened as the helicopter followed the cortege. The clear skies revealed a rolling landscape all around.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral celebrating their Silver Wedding anniversary in 1972 Credit: PA

Local people have cherished their relationship with the monarchy, and there were plenty who had great pride on Sunday as their homeland was put on show for the world to see.

From Royal Deeside, the people have also had a rare view of the Queen whenever she has been here for the last 70 years: relaxed in the outdoors, casually dressed and telling jokes at the family barbecue.

The Queen watches the sack race at the 2001 Braemar Games with her family Credit: PA

Nowhere has this distinct relationship with Scotland and its traditions been more apparent than at the Braemar gathering.

Year, after year, we have seen genuine enjoyment and affection joining the community for their Highland games.

The Queen also attended Crathie Kirk church, a short walk from Balmoral Castle, and prayed alongside the local congregation. 

That’s where she first heard Paul Anderson play his fiddle, then invited him to play for her at Balmoral.

He played at a private service for the royals in Crathie Kirk on Saturday - an emotional moment, just for her children and grandchildren.

He now sees the nation mourn a monarch, but says locals are remembering their neighbour.

The new King inherits this connection with Scotland, and it runs deep. But he knows this nation well. 

He is the first British monarch to have gone to school rather be educated at home, and it was at Gordonstoun near Elgin that he attended for six years.

The Queen opens a sports centre at Gordonstoun in 1967, where King Charles III was head boy. Credit: PA

While in attendance, the young King wrote about tough times at boarding school, though later said the Gordonstoun education helped shape the man we see today.

While people from the towns and villages around Balmoral have certainly embraced the royals as neighbours, it would be wrong to portray that as a universal affinity in Scotland. 

Far from the rolling hills on Royal Deeside, cities like Glasgow and Dundee have become notably cooler on flag waving and street parties.

King Charles III and the Queen on a visit to Dumfries House in Cumnock in 2014 Credit: PA

Those Scots will be watching how King Charles III engages not just with the traditions of their nation, but with their lives - and even with their doubts about what role the royals have in a modern Scotland.

As people of Scotland now pay respects to the Queen before she leaves this land she so treasured one final time, we see the legacy she leaves behind.

Now it is the King who inherits that great responsibility for maintaining this unique bond with the land and its people.

The remarkable life of the Queen remembered in our latest episode of What You Need To Know