Our New Monarch’s Far North Bond

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If his record at Caithness is anything to go by, we should rest assured that our new king is good at keeping a promise.

More than two decades have passed since the death of the Queen Mother, the grandmother of King Charles III.

Before her death in March 2002, she asked Charles to continue the work she had started with the Castle of Mey Trust.

And since then, he has been going there every year, forging a strong link with the Far North.

“Great admiration” for the Northern Highlands

During this time, King Charles developed a “great admiration” for the area.

That’s according to Robert Lovie, who is director of outreach for the Prince’s Foundation and has been dubbed Charles’ right-hand man in the Far North.

He said: “He promised his grandmother that he would continue to take care of what she started here.

King Charles III having fun at the Mey Highland Games. Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“And he kept that promise. He is very aware of what his grandmother created.

“When you look at what has been achieved in agriculture, environment and educational opportunities, it has nurtured that legacy.”

The King is involved with three main charities in the Northern Highlands.

The Castle of Mey Trust – which was established by the Queen Mother in 1996, the Prince’s Foundation and the North Highland Initiative (NHI).

Castle of King Charles Caithness of Mey
The flag flies at half mast at Castle Mey, Caithness, on Friday. Photo by Sandy McCook

The NHI is now best known for creating the North Coast 500.

Established in 2005, it helped the then Duke of Rothesay bring the farming, business and tourism communities together to address the challenges facing rural areas of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire.

What are the links between Caithness and the royal family?

The Queen Mother first saw what was then known as Barrogill Castle in 1952.

It was then that she mourned the death of her husband, King George VI.

She decided to save him after hearing that he had to be abandoned.

After restoring it as a vacation home, she visited the area regularly until her death.

Robert Lovie at the Braemar rally. Photo by Kenny Elrick

Mr Lovie added: ‘There were annual visits when Charles was young. So the people of Caithness and the place have always been part of his life.

“Over time he got more and more involved and now he spends between 10 and 12 days a year there.

“It’s a beautiful testimony that he continues to go there.”

Will Charles’ visits to Caithness continue now that he is king?

What happens next remains unclear.

There is obviously a lot to sort out and a lot of procedure and ceremony before we see how the Royal Family will conduct their business with a new figurehead at the top.

It seems very likely that Charles or another member of the royal family will want to continue the strong ties they have created in Caithness.

The desire to maintain this close bond is also visible in many people in the county.

Caithness Food Bank recently described it as an honor to have Charles visit so he could hear about the work they do.

Mey Caithness King Charles Castle
Visitors pay homage at Chateau de Mey, guide Philip Henderson sorts through some of the bouquets left in memory of Her Majesty The Queen. Photo by Sandy McCook

He was also the leader of the Mey Highland Games.

Wick and East Caithness Councilor Willie MacKay said King Charles’ annual visits were always looked forward to.

“He is very well received in Caithness and always has been,” Councilor MacKay said.

“He sees it as a second home.

“It would be absolutely out of this world to have the King as the leader of our Highland Games, but we don’t yet know if it will happen that way.

“We understand he will have a lot of extra commitments now. But of course we want to see his links here continue.

“He loves the people of Caithness and they love him.”

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