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19th Century



The "Grand Caledonian Ball" is first held at Almack's Assembly Rooms, St James's, London - mere months before King George IV would travel to Scotland, the first British monarch to do so in nearly two centuries.

Under the patronage of many of the same ladies who would welcome the King on his journey north, the Ball was held for the benefit of the Caledonian Asylum: an institution launched by members of the Highland Society of London in 1815 to provide a home and education for Scottish children in London who had been orphaned in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Ball attracted some 1200 people and was described by contemporary papers as "one of the most splendid fêtes ever seen".


Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in her fourth year as monarch, formally grants her Patronage to the Ball. The Ball had already been attended by various members of the extended Royal Family prior to this.



The first known mention of the Royal Caledonian Ball.



The newly married Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) attend the Royal Caledonian Ball. The Princess - wearing a white dress, a wreath of white flowers studded with diamonds, and a "Royal Stuart scarf [sash]" - was given a bouquet of flowers arranged to form the Danish national colours upon their arrival.

The Danish-born Alexandra is described as being "much amused" by the traditional Highland Quadrille which opened the Ball - a predecessor of what is now known as the Set Reel.



The Ball moves to the New Club in Covent Garden, the Prince of Wales' favoured venue.



The Duchess of Atholl replaces the traditional Highland Quadrille - which had always opened the Ball in years before - with the Eightsome Reel. A total of six Eightsomes grace the floor, though the Duchess and her husband (who was President of the Ball) do not themselves take part in one. 

Seventy years after its inception, the Ball is still held in support of the (now Royal) Caledonian Asylum, although another charitable cause - the Royal Scottish Hospital - has been added. Pipers and pupils from the Asylum continue to be 'presented' to guests in between the dances. 

20th Century


The Ball moves from Hotel Metropole (now the Corinthia on Northumberland Avenue) to the Hotel Cecil (now Shell Mex House on the Strand).

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46 years after first attending the Ball with his new bride, King Edward VII's death forces the Ball's cancellation. The King is shown here at Balmoral in his later years. 



The Ball moves to its current home, Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London. The hotel - built on the site of Grosvenor House, the former London residence of the Dukes of Westminster - had been opened the previous year. Although originally built as an ice rink, the hotel's Great Room is now one of the largest ballrooms in Europe.



The Ball returns after six years of war with Princess Elizabeth (now Her Majesty The Queen) in attendance. Her Majesty is reported not to have missed a single dance and remains the Ball's Royal Patron to this day. 


One of six Royal Patrons that year, Her Majesty The Queen Mother attends the Ball. The evening was part of a whirlwind schedule which included - within a single week - official engagements in all three British nations, travelling a total of 1,123 miles. On her right in this photo is Lord Airlie, Vice President of the Ball and the Queen Mother's Lord Chamberlain.



Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal becomes the Ball's Patron. She is shown here dancing with the Scots Guards. 

21st Century



Lady Dalmeny, in her role as Chairwoman, reintroduces the tradition of children being allowed to watch the Set Reel from the Great Room's Balcony. She is shown here with three of her daughters.  


The Ball celebrates its Bi-Centenary after two years of absence because of the COVID19 pandemic.

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