A couple of businesses have been taking increased orders from the Balmoral Estate for bread and meat. Plain clothes police and protection officers in Range Rovers start to appear. Then, the visit is confirmed when the Queen’s Dresser pops into A Cassie hardware store to say hello.
“You just missed her, she was in here about three minutes ago for a chat. Ella she’s been coming here for years, ”shop owner Alistair Cassie says.
It’s hard to imagine anywhere else in Scotland where the Royal Family is part of ordinary life more than Ballater. Those who are not Royalists are far harder to find here.
Businesses in the village have long been decorated with Royal Warrants, such as HM Sheridan the butcher, where only a month or so ago Princess Anne was in to get her favorite smoked back bacon and smoky jumbo sausage. The Princess was also in A Cassie’s buying a dog bowl of late, the shop where her late father used to order charcoal for his barbecues.
Mr Cassie got a Royal Warrant in the early 1980s to install televisions at Balmoral Castle, an accolade that secured him invitations to garden parties, balls and HMY Britannia thereafter.
He would take televisions and VHS recorders to the castle and get them fitted in time for the Royal summer visit. One day, he met the Queen as he struggled to get a television for the Queen Mother through the backdoor of Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate.
“I was taking this big, heavy telly into Birkhall and trying to get the sprung door open. The Queen appeared out of nowhere and she held the door open for me.
“I am not even sure I said thank you, but I probably did,” he says.
As the Queen arrives at Balmoral for a break before the Jubilee, preparations are gearing up in Ballater to mark the 70th anniversary of her reign. Shop windows are getting a royal makeover and a beacon last lit in the village by Prince Charles to mark the 200th Anniversary of Trafalgar Day is being restored.
“Prince Charles likes recycling so he should approve,” said one villager.
A crocheted queen stands on top of a postbox on Victoria Road and nearby sits a cairn built by the community for the Queen’s Diamond jubilee, with 60 stones taken from surrounding mountains making up the tribute. Restaurants such as the Lochnagar Indian and the Rothesay Rooms are gearing up for a busy weekend.
John Sinclair, co-owner of HM Sheridan, where a pork and cranberry Jubilee sausage is selling well, said: “The Jubilee is massive for Ballater. There’s a number of businesses that keep going because of the Royal connection. If it wasn’t for the Royals coming every summer, Ballater wouldn’t be the place that it is.”
Mr Sinclair adds: “Nobody bothers the Royals when they are here. They are easy going. All they want is for you to be yourself with them.”
Winifred Hepburn, a retired restaurateur, adds: “There’s a real regard for the Royals, especially for Charles after the floods when he walked up and down the road to speak to everyone and sent gifts of food from Highgrove. For the Jubilee, I think the place will be buzzing.”