grouse shooting

Larking about with her daughters outside Princess Margaret’s country cottage. Prentending to be at an opening ceremony, the Queen Mother holds a bucket over her head and Princess Margaret a jug- instead of tiaras. The Queen looks unamused.


The Queen Mother’s legendary sense of fun frequently enabled her to use humour to dispel many an awkward situation. This was never truer than during a family holiday north of the border, as one of her great-nieces remembers.
 It was a cold, wet day in August. For what seemed like weeks the rain had been teeming down in Scotland and the grouse shooting season had been wiped out. With no guests at Balmoral because there were no birds to shoot, the family kicked its heels and waited for more clement times. An air of boredom and frustration hung over the castle. Then the Queen suggested that despite the weather, they might have a picnic in one of the royal lodges built by Queen Victoria and her Consort Prince Albert. The idea was enthusiastically embraced and instructions were given that hampers, dogs and children should be got ready. The Land Rovers were packed, the family loaded and the convoy set off. Miles of muddy, potholed track separated them from their objective and the journey seemed to take hours. All became restive. Then, at last, the lodge was in sight. Everyone scrambled out of the cars and headed for the front door. But the front door was locked and who had the key? The family looked from one to another and recriminations began. ‘I thought you told me…’ and ‘I never did!’ resounded through the air as the bedraggled, rain-sodden group squabbled about whose fault it was and who would take the long road back to fetch the key. Suddenly, a large car drew alongside and the beaming face of the Queen Mother appeared at the window. An irritated Queen explained to her mother what had happened. ‘Oh, my poor darling,’ she responded. ‘But I thought you were Queen and all you had to say was “Open Sesame!”‘ Everyone laughed…

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The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are guests of the Duke of Buccleuch for the opening of the grouse shooting in Dumfriesshire (1937)

“A good time was had by all, except for the grouse.”