An almost like-for-like gathering of 20 members marked 200 years to the week of the foundation of the Royal Celtic Society.
The members gathered on the very spot in Edinburgh where it was founded on Friday 7 January 1820.
The 2020 location was the Café Royal, sited where the foundation lunch occurred, and unlike the original meeting, ladies were present. The society was founded by a group of professional and landowning Highlanders who were based in the city. Its initial objective was to encourage the wearing of Highland dress, which had fallen out of use during the four decades of its proscription following the Battle of Culloden.
With chairman Dr Alan Hay absent, proceedings were in the capable hands of vice-chairman Fiona Duck. In recalling the history of the founding meeting, she paid tribute to those who had maintained the Society down two centuries.
However, when Fiona gave formal announcement to the news that HRH The Princess Royal has become patron for this special anniversary year, sustained applause broke out. The Princess Royal is known for her keen interest in matters concerning Scotland.
Fiona stayed away from giving members the history of the society, instead highlighting that the story of their first 200 years is being told by member Priscilla Scott in her forthcoming book. Dr Scott, a Gaelic-speaking scholar, specialises in the history of women in 19th century Highland organisations.
The long luncheon afternoon was however a time for friendships new and old, a time to remember, share and enjoy. And the 20 present did just that.
There was a remarkable and continuing connection with that inaugural meeting, through secretary and treasurer Gordon Cameron.
One of those present at our inaugural meeting in 1820 was the Edinburgh lawyer Joseph Gordon. A Sutherland Highlander, he was appointed treasurer, holding office for 33 years until 1853. Joseph Gordon held legal partnership with Alexander Stuart, Society secretary for 18 years until 1864.
Alexander Stuart named his eldest son Joseph Gordon Stuart after his business partner. In the next generation, the law firm was managed by two first cousins, Joseph Gordon Stuart jnr. and George Malcolm Stuart, both of whom became council members. In due time, control of Stuart & Stuart passed to Josephine Gordon Stuart’s younger son, Joseph Gordon Stuart Cameron, Society treasurer from 1955 and Secretary from 1968.
At his death in 1990, Joe Cameron was succeeded in both Society and law firm by his eldest son, Joseph Gordon Cameron, sixth generation of Stuart & Stuart to be involved with the society. Today, Gordon Cameron is both secretary and treasurer, linked in unbroken line to first incumbent of his office two centuries ago.