The 95-year-old monarch was all smiles as she was greeted by a Guard of Honour comprised of the 5 SCOTS Balaklava Company and the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Major Cameron Law, who commands the Royal Regiment, was there to say hello, as was a very special guest: Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, a Shetland pony the Queen knows very well. Pipers and drummers for the 3 SCOTS were on hand to perform, which she likely found lovely.
Cruachan is the Royal Regiment of Scotland's mascot, and has met Her Majesty several times in the past – one time, Cruachan actually tried to eat a bouquet of flowers she was holding. Cruachan also gave Prince Harry's hands a little bit of a nibble when he and Duchess Meghan were in Scotland in 2018.
The Queen looked very pleased to see everyone as she stepped out to meet the company dressed in a pink coat and hat and floral dress.
Members of the public also looked very happy to see the Queen. They lined the road on the Balmoral estate with cameras, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
This is the Queen's first full holiday at Balmoral on her own. In April, Prince Philip, her beloved husband of 73 years, passed away at age 99. Typically over the course of the summer, Her Majesty welcomes guests such as the U.K. Prime Minister and that person's spouse, along with members of her family and dignitaries from other countries. Previous Governors General of Canada such as Michaelle Jean have travelled to Balmoral over the summer for audiences with the Queen.
Last year, some of those visits weren't possible COVID-19 and lockdown protocols, but Duchess Kate and Prince William and their children, along with Princess Anne and Prince Edward, all still reportedly made it up. The Cambridges typically visit just before the beginning of September. Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla have their own home, Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate, and will likely spend plenty of time with the Queen over the next few weeks.
She's also likely to receive U.K. PM Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson, his wife. So while we know she'll be missing the late Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen will be surrounded with friends and family as she enjoys her time at her favourite of her homes.