Royal George Royalty
Following a holiday at Balmoral, Queen Victoria made a surprise visit to Perth in 1848, along with Prince Albert and their children, when rough seas prevented them from sailing south via Aberdeen. The Earl Of Mansfield, of Scone Palace, the natural choice to accommodate the Royal party, was out of town, and hasty preparations had to be made to make space for them at The George Inn. In the meantime, Mr Davidson the Inn's proprietor, had travelled to Aberdeen to view the Queen's scheduled departure, so he missed the grand occasion. The Queen had never before stayed in a Hotel and insisted that its usual routine should continue as normal. Soon afterwards, by Royal Appointment, The George Inn proudly renamed itself as The Royal George Hotel.
Empress Eugenie Of France
Empress Eugenie Of France, wife of Napoleon III, visited Scotland in 1860, and among other places visited Blair Castle and Loch Lomond in November, where she sailed up the loch and the press reported 'A cloudless sky, a snow-covered Ben, the full moon shed a flood of silvery light, and a scene of unsurpassed beauty.' The Empress was accorded a guard of honour and an orchestral serenade. She noted the local hotels 'excelled in comfort, quietude and convenience.'
With this longstanding historical royal connection, The Royal George Hotel was therefore delighted to host Prince Edward for luncheon in 2003.
Queen Victoria's First Visit to the Highlands
In 1842 the Queen came to Scotland for the first time and after ceremonial duties in Edinburgh, came north to Perthshire. Following a lavish lunch in Dunkeld, as guests of the ducal family of Atholl, the royal party travelled up Strathtay to Taymouth Castle at Kenmore, where more lavish entertainment, including dinners, balls and a lavish firework display, were provide by the Marquis of Breadalbane. Prince Albert also had his first experience of deer-stalking on Scottish moors.
Private Holiday at Blair Castle
The young queen's first visit to Scotland whetted her appetite for more. In 1844 Blair Castle was given over to Victoria and Albert and their entourage, who numbered about 50. This was a private visit and the Atholl Highlanders, mainly men in the Duke's employ, were responsible for their safety. Visits were made to many local beauty spots and again Albert enjoyed deer-stalking in the mountains.
A Great Expedition
Although she did not return to Atholl for another 17 years, Victoria and Albert came again in 1861, on the return to Balmoral from a private tour through the Highlands. Having spent a night at the Dalwhinnie Inn, when the queen complained that there was "no fun", the party travelled south through Drumochter Pass to Blair Castle, where they stopped for coffee. A party of Atholl Highlanders then escorted them through Glen Tilt to Deeside, as commemorated in the famous painting by Carl Haag.
Visit From a Friend
The 6th Duchess of Atholl was a great friend of Queen Victoria, and when she heard that the Duke was in failing health, the Queen broke her journey north, from Windsor to Balmoral, in September 1863, to pay him a visit. The Queen was able to travel from Stanley Junction to Blair Atholl by train, as the line to Inverness had been opened just six days previously. When the Duke died in January 1864, Duchess Anne's bond with the Queen was strengthened, as both were now widows.
St Adamnan's Cottage, Dunkeld
It was agreed that the Queen would pay a visit to the Dowager Duchess of Atholl's house in Dunkeld by the River Tay, in 1865. She travelled by carriage from Balmoral by the Spittal of Glenshee, then rode over the hill to Loch Ordie above Dunkeld. By then it was dark and very wet. Unfortunately the coachman took a wrong turning in the forest and for a time the royal part was completely lost. Eventually, accompanied by John Grant and John Brown , the Queen's famous "Highland Servant", the party reached their destination safely. The next few days were spent in quiet sight-seeing.
Return to the Cottage
In 1866 the Queen paid a second visit to The Duchess of Atholl in Dunkeld, stopping on the way there for a picnic at Kindrogan House in Strathardle, where this event is commemorated by a plaque. During her stay, the Queen and Duchess made a day excursion of 70 miles round north Perthshire. They stopped high above Taymouth Castle and looked down on it, unobserved, no doubt with the private thoughts and memories of the splendours of 1842, on that first visit to Scotland. Thus ended a memorable series of visits which spanned over twenty years of Queen Victoria's life. Though she never afterwards came back to the area -..."These dream days in Atholl were a perfume that sweetened her life to the very end."