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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
'Truly, the passing of an era'
Queen Mother raising the Black Watch standard
The Queen Mother was the regiment's colonel-in-chief

The death of the Queen Mother was felt with particular sadness by the men of the Black Watch.

The depth of emotion was shown in the regiment's Scottish heartland as six retired soldiers gathered in the regimental headquarters at Balhousie Castle in Perth to watch the service.

They were joined by a handful of servicemen paying their own tributes to the regiment's late colonel-in-chief.

The Black Watch was represented at the ceremony in London by a number of officers.

Black Watch logo
The regimental logo
Its Colonel, Brigadier Gary Barnett, was one of the pallbearers, while the regiment was also represented in the mass pipes and drums which led the procession.

There was pride among those back home in Perth at the level of involvement.

Rob Scott, a member of the Black Watch Regimental Association's welfare committee, said the Queen Mother's death was "truly the passing of an era".

"Everyone of us here would have given our right arm to be one of those present (at the ceremony)," Mr Scott said.

"Not for the glory, just to be there."

Family ties

Former Drum Major Jim Ferguson said: "I don't think she could ever be replaced.

"When she was born they broke the mould. I doubt there will be another like her.

"She was a one-off and we were very privileged to have had the honour to meet her."

And former serviceman Harry Morgan added: "She was a great friend to the regiment and a wonderful woman. She will be terribly missed."

Major Ronnie Proctor
Major Ronnie Proctor: "Sad occasion"
The Queen Mother and her family have a long association with the Black Watch.

Her father, the 14th Earl of Strathmore, was an honorary Colonel of the 5th Volunteer Battalion.

A number of the Queen Mother's family members served with the regiment, including her brother, Fergus, who was killed in action at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

The Queen Mother was appointed colonel-in-chief on 11 May 1937, following the death of her father-in-law, King George V.

'Great lady'

She was a regular visitor to the battalion down the years, including one trip to the Perth depot in 1940 while her nephew Timothy was serving in the Scottish city.

Balhousie Castle, which was closed on Tuesday as a mark of respect, is also the home of the Black Watch museum.

Almost every square inch of the building seems to be crammed with pictures, paintings and artefacts from the long history of a regiment founded in 1725.


The Queen Mother was a great lady and we should celebrate her life, goodness and charm

Major Ronnie Proctor

No visitor could wander too far without stumbling across something which showed the involvement of the woman who was the Black Watch's colonel-in-chief for almost a quarter of its existence.

These included the portrait of a younger Queen Elizabeth which hung ever-present behind the television on which the small gathering watched her funeral.

Their sorrow at her passing told in their faces during the broadcast.

As one reminiscence led to another after the service, the many ways in which she touched the lives of these soldiers and their families also became apparent.

Whether it was helping a young daughter at an official function, her refusal to pass by without greeting her troops or her capacity to remember all those she dealt with, they all helped endear the Queen Mother to the men.

'Very moving'

Mr Scott recalled the number of telephone calls he received in the hours after her death from colleagues asking: "What are we going to do?

"It was like we had lost a part of our family."

Major Ronnie Proctor agreed that the funeral service had been "very, very moving".

"It is a sad occasion but the Queen Mother was a great lady and we should celebrate her life, goodness and charm," he said.

"She was a great example to everybody."


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09 Apr 02 | Scotland
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