Despite Queen Elizabeth’s arrival at her favourite summer holiday spot, Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, a Scottish royal tradition has been cancelled.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the rapid spreading of the Delta variant, the annual Braemar Gathering has been cancelled for the second year in a row.

The event, which usually takes place on the first Saturday in September at the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar, hosts the royal family, including the Queen, Prince Charles and Camila, the Duchess of Cornwall, to watch the Highland Games.

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In a statement on the event’s website, David Geddes, President of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision to make. To cancel a gathering is something which I had hoped I would never have to do in my time as President. Now, to cancel for a second year is heart-breaking. However, there is still uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus and we must put the wellbeing of our community, visitors and volunteers first.”

“We know the gathering is a highlight in many people’s year and an event which many make plans for well in advance. We share everyone’s disappointment and offer our hope and thoughts that you stay well and keep safe as the pandemic moves into what we hope is the final phase,” Geddes continued. “As I said last year, like the hills around Braemar, the gathering will be here next year, and we look forward to happier times and to welcoming you back to Braemar on September 3, 2022.”

Queen Elizabeth arrived at the Scottish castle on Monday and was reunited with the cheeky Shetland pony she first met when the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s mascot tried to eat her flowers in 2018.

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The Monarch will spend her first summer at the estate without her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away in April at the age of 99.

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Usually, the Queen remains at Balmoral until early October.