How the Queen’s neighbourhood in Scotland remembers her

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In Scotland’s Ballater, which is the nearest village to the royal family’s Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth II was considered a neighbour whom the residents frequently interacted with. Balmoral Castle is where the queen spent her last moments, surrounded by her family.

John Sinclair, who owns a butcher shop in the village, said, “Losing the Queen is like losing someone from your own family.” John said that growing up in the village, the Queen was a frequent sight. He said he remembers waving the Union Jack to her as a 5-year-old and added, “I have lived here all my life and it’s a huge loss.”

John told India Today that he had the fortune of meeting the Queen six times in his life. This includes the one time she visited his butcher shop to enquire about the welfare of the area after a storm hit the village in 2015.

Alisteir Cassi, who owns a hardware shop just round the corner from John’s shop, remembers the Queen with great fondness and reminisces about her great sense of humour. Many years back, Alisteir had fixed a television in the castle.

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A SUMMER RETREAT FOR THE ROYALS

Situated at an elevation of 213 metres, Ballater Castle is rounded by mountains that provide privacy for the royals, a rarity for them.

As a child, the Queen came here and the memories of the time spent in the quaint village were etched in her heart forever. It is no wonder that she wanted her last days to be spent in the secure and comforting environment that Balmoral and Ballater offered.

According to a 2020 consensus, close to 1500 people live in Ballater who thought of the Queen as one of their own. Even if the royal family passed by, the residents would not make a big fuss around them as they recognised that the family had come for a break.

The village knew her well but not everybody wanted to be identified. A 50-year-old woman who owns a shop in the village got emotional as she told India Today, “She lived her life in the public eye, never putting a foot out of place. She was an example to us all.’

The Queen’s coffin will be taken from Balmoral on September 11 to Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and then taken to London two days later.

Her funeral will be held at London’s Westminster Abbey.

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