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The Queen Elizabeth Castle Of Mey Trust Launch Their New Web Site 15 April
The Earl of Caithness a trustee of The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust today announced the launch of the new web site.  Upgrading work at the castle that has been ongoing for some time will be completed in July.  The web site will carry information about the trust and later this year the details about opening times for the castle.  It is expected that everything will be ready for an August opening. 

10 April 2002
Two Minute Silence Outside Ulbster Arms , Halkirk
Many places in Caithness marked the funeral of the Queen mother by observing a silence.  Many shops were closed for part of the day.  Here at the Ulbster Arms staff and others  stood outside for their two minute silence.



9 April 2002
A few more of the many flags at half mast in Caithness today

8 April 2002
Castle Of Mey Flag At Half Mast           Flowers On Castle Gate

6 April 2002
Farm Flies Huge Union Jack

3 April 2002
Books Of Condolence
The Highland Council has organised books of condolences, to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, to be available in all main Council offices and in all 36 Service Points.
The books will be available for anyone to sign until 5pm on Tuesday 9 April. Flags at council buildings will fly at half mast until after Tuesday’s funeral.
Councillor John Rosie, Convener of The Highland Council’s Area Committee said. "The books of condolences will allow the people of the Highlands to pay respect to the Queen Mother. She was a remarkable woman with the ability to make people feel completely at ease in her company and will be missed by us all.
"She has been a part of Caithness life since she bought the Castle of Mey shortly after being widowed in 1952. During her annual visits she participated actively in community life, being present at many galas, Highland games and exhibitions. Her involvement became something of a tradition and a great boost to our county. She liked the non-intrusive nature of the people of Caithness and we were rewarded with a wonderful neighbour and ambassador for our area."

2 April 2002
Flags all Over Caithness At Half Mast

30 March 2002
We Are Sad To Announce That The Queen Mother Has Died Peacefully In Her Sleep. 
She will be missed on her annual holiday in the county at the Castle Of Mey this year and in future.
The Queen Mother was presented with the freedom of Wick on 11 August 1956 the only lady ever to receive it.  Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother said the honour "was a symbol of the kindness which I have always found awaiting me in Caithness"

The Queen Mother was born the Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon on 4th August 1900 the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.  She spent most of her childhood at Glamis Castle in Angus.  In 1923 at the age of 23 she married Prince Albert Duke of York, second son of King George V.  When King Edward V111 abdicated the Duke of York became King George V1 and Elizabeth, Queen Consort.

On 12 June 1952 the Queen mother cam North and stayed with Commander C. G. and Lady Doris Vyner at Dunnet.  This may have been her first visit to Caithness. In August 1952 the announcement was made that the Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother had purchased Barrogill Castle and she later renamed it to the Castle of Mey.  The castle was one of the ancient seats of the Earls of Caithness.  James the 14th Earl was the last of the family to occupy it. 

On her 90th Birthday in August 1990 she was presented with the Freedom of Caithness in a ceremony at the Assembly Rooms, Wick.  A small rose garden at the Riverside Wick is dedicated to the Queen Mother and she planted a tree in the garden just a few years ago.

Castle Of Mey

The Queen Mother returned each year to the castle of Mey that she had transformed the inside after its being used as a military billet in World War Two.  She would have seen the Orkney Islands from the castle windows and on a clear day St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.  The island of Hoy rising up to 1000 feet twenty miles away.  Dunnet Head on one side jutting out into the Pentland Firth with Dunnet Sands not far off.  These were the sights she chose for her holidays for nearly 50 years.
Perhaps the tales of ghosts and other stories about the castle of Mey attracted her or just the chance to unwind far from the duties of royalty down the years.  All of her family know the county well having visited each year to see her whilst she stayed.  The Royal Yacht Britannia was a regular visiting ship when the Queen Mother was in residence.

Canisbay Church Near Castle Of Mey

On 26 August 1952 the Scotsman newspaper published a short feature -
"The Queen mother could not very easily have chosen on the mainland, a summer home further away from London than Barrogill Castle in Caithness.  Those who do not know the most northern mainland county and may wonder why the Queen Mother should have chosen a summer residence in such a remote part of the world.
Bleak and desolate Caithness may be, but it is a county which tends to get under ones skin the more one sees it.  After it has chugged up the valley of the Helmsdale River, the train runs for miles over tawny moors with low rolling horizons broken only by occasional cottages.  What trees there are, are usually gnarled, small and stunted.
Any sense of a sombre and forbidding landscape is soon banished by the vast arc of sky, the rugged coastline and the great sweep of the sea with its racing tides and foam-girt skerries.  Light seems to take on a new and refreshing quality as it plays on the Caithness moors, and the air has a wine-like caress when the sun shines and the wind blows." 

   Mey Games In 2001

She knew the county well over all these years  - from arrivals at Scrabster, fishing trips, picnics on the island of Stroma visits to enterprises like the new Caithness Glass factory, schools, flower shows, art exhibitions and countless  others down the years.

When in Caithness she attended the small church at Canisbay where she took a keen interest and even last year was heard to comment on the improved pathway up to the church door.  She regularly attended a small Highland Games and delighted in presenting prizes and meeting contestants, pipers and dancers.

Her love of the countryside showed in her many visits to sheepdog trials and other country pursuits.  she maintained a prize winning herd of cattle at the nearby farm and her walled garden has for many years been opened to the public for a few days each year to raise money for charity.

Canisbay Church 12 August 2001

Her wish was to leave her beloved castle to the people of Caithness and a trust was set up some time ago.  The queen mother left an endowment of £3million to the charitable trust set up to protect the castle.  she set up the trust a few years ago to take on the responsibility for the 16th century castle and the surrounding estate.  Her majesty wished to have the place developed but more than that to give the area a much needed boost to its tourism industry.  Apparently no family member wished to take over the castle and she wanted to ensure that it was secure for the future having done so much to restore it.
Her wishes went further in that she to promote the education and historical buildings in the county for the benefit of the whole community.   £1million of improvements were already underway.  It is hoped that the castle might be open to the public by august 2002.  John Thurso MP for the area is a trustee of the trust she created.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother carried out many public and private engagements in the county and will be sadly missed.

See Also
BBC Web Site  - The Queen Mother - A Remarkable Life

Mey Village