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King Charles Attends First Braemar Games of Reign Before Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's Death

The King stepped out for the sporty tournament, long a staple of Queen Elizabeth's summer calendar

King Charles is capping summer with a favorite highlight on the royal family calendar.

On Saturday, the King, 74, attended the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering in Braemar, Scotland. The festive annual event of traditional games doubles as a proud display of Scottish heritage and is just a short drive from Balmoral Castle, where the King is continuing Queen Elizabeth’s tradition of retreating for a private summer break.

The outing marked a final milestone of the first year of Charles’ reign, as it was his first Braemar Games since becoming King. Queen Elizabeth died at age 96 at her beloved Balmoral on Sept. 8, 2022, and her eldest son and successor is expected to spend the first anniversary quietly and privately next Friday.

<p>ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty</p>

ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty

King Charles attended the spirited sports event with his wife, Queen Camilla, plus Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence.

He wore traditional Scottish garb including a kilt, knee socks and sporran. His green, blue and red tartan was designed by The Scottish Tartans Authority earlier this year.

Much has changed since the Braemar Games last year, which Charles attended with Queen Camilla (then known as the Duchess of Cornwall) and Princess Anne. The trio beamed from their front-row seats and lit up with laughter while watching on Sept. 3, 2022. It was a big year for the competition, as the games were canceled in 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Sarah Ferguson Reveals Queen Elizabeth's Last Words to Her Before the Monarch's Death

<p>ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty</p>

ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty

A few days before, palace sources confirmed that Queen Elizabeth would not attend the much-loved event. Royal sources said that the decision was made with the monarch's "comfort" in mind. She had been experiencing episodic mobility issues.

Her absence marked a break in tradition as she only ever missed the Braemar Games four times during her 70-year reign, the Braemar Gathering said in a statement after her death. Queen Elizabeth had served as the proud patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society since her accession in 1952 and became the longest-serving member of the royal family to hold the role.

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty</p>

Chris Jackson/Getty

Queen Elizabeth had attended the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering since she was a child, cheering on the sports tournament held since 1832.

While the Queen was famed her poise and polish at official royal engagements, she seemed to let her guard down a little bit at the Braemar Games. She was often photographed laughing during energetic events like tug-of-war, caber tossing and hill races from her prime spot in the Patrons’ Pavilion at the competition, typically held on the first Saturday in September.

Related: Kate Middleton and Prince William to Lead Tributes to Queen Elizabeth on First Anniversary of Death

The Queen made the Braemar Games a family day out, attending with her husband, Prince Philip, and all four of their children — Charles, Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — through the years. Later, her grandchildren would join her.

Queen Elizabeth last attended the Braemar Games in September 2019 and sat with a plaid blanket on her lap next to Charles, Camilla, her grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn Kelly. Princess Anne’s son and Autumn divorced in 2021 after 13 years of marriage.

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty</p>

Chris Jackson/Getty

The 2023 Braemar Games come just a week before the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death.

Almost a year ago, Queen Elizabeth died “peacefully” at Balmoral. King Charles and Queen Camilla are expected to spend the day quietly and privately, as Queen Elizabeth used to do on her own Accession Day.

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The royal couple will likely spend the anniversary at Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth’s summer sanctuary, or Birkhall Estate, their private home nearby.

Sept. 8 doubles as King Charles' Accession Day, and the emotional anniversary comes with a celebratory element to herald his reign. Westminster Abbey, where the coronations of Queen Elizabeth and King Charles were held, will ring the bells on Sept. 8 in honor of Charles’ Accession Day, according to the abbey. In another tribute, a 21-gun salute will be fired in the royal parks of London as a sign of respect on King Charles’ Sept. 8 Accession Day, the royal family's website states.

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