Among the smart Scottish infantrymen saluting the Queen this week at Stirling Castle there was one particular battalion member who caught her attention. The horse-loving monarch paused during her inspection of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - known as the Fifth Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland - to pat their well-behaved mascot, a Shetland pony called Cruachan III.
Her encounter with the regiment's smallest member came on the fourth day of the royal matriarch's week-long annual Scottish trip. Greeted by the hereditary keeper of the castle, she was invited to meet the troops - for whom she acts as patron and Royal Colonel. Formed in 1881, the battalion has served in both world wars and virtually every major British conflict, including Iraq.
Some of the regiment's erstwhile members were also on hand to meet the Queen, including 92-year-old former Lietenant Colonel Andrew Brown, who proudly informed her he was the oldest living Argyll and Sutherland Highlander.
The monarch moved onto Edinburgh the following day where she was due to host a garden party at Holyrood Palace to which 8,000 people from across Scottish society had been invited.