After landing in the Highlands, we ambled along the coastline for about 20 miles northeast. The Orkneys were visible off the coast in a strikingly bronze aura surrounded by the blue of the North Sea. Our destination was the Castle of Mey. In 1953, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, came to stay with friends after the death of her husband, King George VI. She fell in love with a downtrodden 15th century castle, bought and restored it, and resided there twice each year until her death.
Touring this beautiful estate was as much about receiving a glimpse into the reasons this lovely woman was so loved by her citizens as it was about seeing the artwork and decor. The best similarity I could give from American life would be to compare her to “The King,” Arnold Palmer. They were both outgoing, appreciative, and incredibly caring. Queen Mum had a sandwich for any of the locals who passed by her picnics on the beach. She attended the local church. She had a wonderful sense of humor. For example, she declared that every castle required a stags head, so she acquired a woolen one from the Shetlands to mount in her library. Her friends had a kind of competition to bring the Queen Mother ugly little stuffed animals, because what else could you give her that she didn’t already have. Her private secretary thought them not to be proper and would take them all down….but Elizabeth instructed her military attaché to find them and put them back. So there was a little stuffed “Nessie” on the top corner of an exquisite tapestry in the drawing room.
If you are fortunate to visit the Scottish Highlands, be sure to spend a little time with the Queen Mother and her Castle of Mey. You will never regret it !!