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The Royal Company of Archers
Part 2 of 2

Again, when the Queen opened the Glasgow Exhibition several years ago, the streets of the western capital resounded with the proud martial tramp of Her Majesty's Scottish Bodyguard in their dark green tunics (formerly of the "Black Watch" tartan), with black braid facings and a narrow stripe of crimson velvet in the centre; shoulder wings and gauntleted cuffs similarly trimmed; dark green trousers with black and crimson stripe; a bow case worn as a sash, adorned with two arrows forming a St. Andrew's cross surmounted by a crown; a black leather waist-belt with richly chased gold clasp; a short, gilt-headed Roman sword, like an English bandsman's; Highland bonnet with thistle and eagle's feather. Yes, eagle's; for all the members of the Archer Body≠guard, numbering about six hundred, or an infantry battalion on a peace footing, are men of distinguished birth or gentle blood and breeding—the social cream of Scotland, in fact; and their Captains-General have always been the greatest nobles of the North, men like the Duke of Atholl, the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Wemyss, the Duke of Montrose, the Earl of Dalhousie, and the Duke of Buccleuch. The mottoes on their colours, of which they have two sets, are "Pro patriâ dulce periculum" and "Nemo me impune lacessit" They might have added thereto the motto on the ancient banner of the Garde Ecossaise of the Kings of France: "In omni modo fidelis." To belong to the Royal Company of Archers at Edinburgh is a social distinction like being elected to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.


      

Captain-General 1819-1823
As he appeared when presenting two barbed arrows to George IV., at Holyrood, August 15, 1822
From the Portrait by Sir John Watson Gordon, in Archers' Hall

But in the case of the former, its pastime does not take the form of yachting, but of yerking arrows into round targets at the distance of nine score yards (which is twenty yards less than the shortest Bisley distance) on their ranges in the pleasant Meadows, with the Braid Hills and the towering Pentlands in the background. The prizes they shoot for are numerous and varied, including an annual money guerdon of 20/.—first given by the Scottish Privy Council and revived by George III. in 1788—to be invested by the winner in the purchase of a piece of plate; silver arrows presented by the towns of Edinburgh, Musselburgh, Selkirk, Biggar and Montrose; a silver punch-bowl and ladle—always a coveted reward in those toddy-drinking parts; a richly ornamented Dalhousie Sword; a St. Andrew's Cross; a gold medal carrying one back to the time of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam—he, the truculent despot who tied his dungeon prisoners together by the legs, thereby causing Sir David Baird's fine old mother to clasp her hands and exclaim;—"God pity the chiel that's tied to oor Davie !"—a silver bugle horn (with which one might have summoned a seneschal to the gates of an ancient Border keep); and a "Papingo" competition, like to the Popinjay sport in "Old Mortality," or to the still practised Adler-schiessen at Potsdam.


Admitted 1750, Died 1815
In the Field Uniform of the Royal Company, 1791
From the Portrait by Raeburn, in Archers' Hall

The Royal Company have a large and handsome hall in the vicinity of their shooting ground on the Meadows—a hall, ornamented with many fine portraits of past members of their famous corps, where they meet to transact business, and, above all things, to dine—the latter duty, like that of eating one's way to the Bar, being one of the most onerous of their ordinary functions, in the exercise of which they exchange their field kit for a very smart mess costume. When King Edward, still as Prince of Wales visited Edinburgh in the summer of 1899, he paid the Royal Company of Archers, under their Captain-General the Duke of Buccleuch, the compliment of dining with them in the banqueting hall of Holyrood House; and by the conspicuous presence of their commander at his Coronation, he will thereby confirm them in all the rights and privileges they have hitherto enjoyed as the Sovereign's Bodyguard for Scotland. Our illustrations are repro¬≠duced from the "History of the Royal Company of Archers," with the courteous permission of the author, Sir James Balfour Paul and of the publishers, Messrs. W. Blackwood and Sons.

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