Queen's cattle kept away from Highland shows amid disease fears
In the world of Highland cattle she is regarded, one might say, as the reigning champion.
The Queen has been proudly raising Highland cows at her Balmoral estate for 65 years - and has repeatedly won prizes across the country for the quality of her livestock.
But this year, Her Majesty's animals have been conspicuous by their absence, as none of them has appeared at any of this year's Highland shows.
And the reason why is that the Queen is afraid that her beloved herd might become infected by disease. The stockman responsible for the royal herd has revealed that the queen's cows have been kept away from the shows amid health fears - as she feels the risks of mingling with other livestock is simply too great this year.
Dochy Ormiston said: "We have not entered any shows this year. We are a closed herd and we are very frightened over its health status."
The Queen founded the Balmoral fold of Highland cattle in 1953 and is considered one of the country's top Highland breeders, with more than 50 animals on the estate.
Winning prizes with individual cows and bulls attracts prestige, prize money and can increase the value of an animal enormously.
The monarch, who is patron of the Highland Cattle Society (HCS), has been a regular prize winner with her cattle. Former HCS president Angus MacKay said it was 'a bit sad' that the monarch's cattle were missing from this year's show.