Highland lairds may have been unable to maintain private armed
militia but it didn’t stop them retaining a retinue of men as a ceremonial
bodyguard – it fitted their Victorian romantic ideals of the Highlands.
In 1839 Lord Glenlyon, later the 6th duke, took a retinue to the
Eglinton jousting tournament. Five years later in 1844 the Duke provided Queen
Victoria with a bodyguard of 200 when she visited Blair Castle, and in a bout of
sentimentality that she was prone to, she revoked the law of 1746 for the duke,
and presented him with Regimental Colours, and thus elevating the Atholl
Highlanders to an private armed regiment.
Although essentially a private guard, the regiment is technically
part of the British Army, and carries the Queen’s colours