Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 17:53 UK

Clan chiefs in historic gathering


Prince Charles and Camilla joined thousands at the meeting

Thousands of people have gathered in Edinburgh for the world's largest clan meeting and Highland Games.

The Gathering formed the centrepiece of the Homecoming celebrations, to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of national bard, Robert Burns.

It culminated with a clan parade along the Royal Mile and a pageant on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

Organisers said demand for tickets had been "phenomenal", despite the event not selling out.

The convention saw 100 of Scotland's clan chiefs assembled together for the first time in recorded history.

Hundreds of clan representatives from across the world are also in attendance.

Alex Salmond, pictured with his wife Moira
The first minister said the event has been a great success

The Gathering got under way on Saturday, with more than 20,000 people watching the Highland Games in Holyrood Park.

It was officially opened by the Duke of Rothesay, who said it was a unique event.

"It seems to me that today's event represents the stirring meeting of Scotland's history and its living heritage," he said.

"Where else could you find a gathering of this scale?

"To which other country would so many have come from all over, and how else would you expect it to be celebrated, other than in the context of a great Highland Games?"

First Minister Alex Salmond said the event, which attracted people from 40 countries, was more than just a marketing tool for Scotland.

"Obviously the Homecoming year has a visitor aspect to it," he said.

"But all of these people are celebrating their heritage and roots.

"These are deep roots and affinities that stretch back centuries. To mobilise that wonderful diaspora to make a contribution to the future of our country is a massive thing."

The event, set up in 2007, has been given funding from EventScotland, Edinburgh City Council and Scottish Enterprise.

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