Back in 1815, the Braemar Highland Society quietly evolved and was created to ensure that community organizations would work together to make sure that communities would thrive. In the beginning, the fees were quite nominal at about 10 p initiation fee and 1 to 5 p every quarter. These membership costs would provide an allowance for participants after they turned 70 and also included provisions for sickness, death and a widow’s endowment. Many of these groups were started but only a few continued.
The Braemar Society, however, survived and created a formal constitution a year later filing a registration with the authorities and it is known as the most long standing friendly society in Scotland. The name was changed in 1826 to the Braemar Highland Society. They lent their name to a procession that was held annually in Braemar called the Wright’s Walk and that has now become the Braemar Gathering. The Society began to establish a prize award for the Gathering and ever since 1832 the event has grown each year. Royalty was known to participate at the event with Queen Victoria making her first appearance in 1848 and 18 years later suggested that the term Royal be added to the society’s name. The Society was provided with a patent for the Society in 1971 by the King of Arms and thus was bestowed with its own Coat of Arms.
The Gathering was forced to be cancelled due to political conditions for a number of years but it was soon re-established and has been consistently run by the Society each year and the Royal Family attends on a regular basis. There are many cherished events occurring at the Gathering and the foot races are among the oldest, happening yearly since 1832.
The Braemar Royal Highland Charity was established in 2006 and owns all property of the parent Society. The aim of the Charity is to engage in leisure and recreational services for the public and to administer the organization of the Gathering. The Charity engages deeply in supporting the community and ensuring the further development of aspects of education with regard to Scottish heritage, tradition, culture and sport that benefit the population at large and honour the history of the people.
Funding for the Charity comes solely from the profits that are gathered from fees, sponsorships and donations to the Braemar Gathering. With these funds, they manage a beautiful 12 acre public park, as well as a class for Highland dancing. It also helps to organise local pipe bands that play regularly in the village each summer and it makes regular donations to local charities.
The Charity is always in the process of raising funds to support different initiatives such as providing trophies at the Highland events, paying for the facilities to host the classes and events and supporting Gathering Day. The Society encourages anyone that is able to help by financially supporting these and other projects that serve to enhance the social atmosphere of the community.