The Royal Caledonian Ball
Two centuries of celebrating Scottish tradition
A staple of the London social season for centuries, the Royal Caledonian Ball remains a much anticipated gathering of Scots south of the border. First held as part of the great "Tartan Revival" of 1822, the Ball has been held almost annually since then, with cancellations only occurring because of events beyond the organising Committee’s control - including two world wars, the death of King Edward VII, and more recently the COVID19 pandemic. It is widely believed to be the oldest charity ball in the world.
To attend the Royal Caledonian Ball is to dance in the footsteps of those who have come before, including illustrious figures such as the first Duke of Wellington. We are fortunate to maintain the patronage of much of the Scottish nobility as well as the Royal Family, including HRH The Princess Royal and HM The Queen.
From 1930 the Ball has been held at Grosvenor House, which has the largest ballroom in London and is capable of dealing with the hundreds of Scots who descend on the capital to reel the night away each year. Records show that numbers reached around 2000 in previous decades; a figure which is unlikely to be repeated due to modern fire regulations! Still, it is not uncommon to find three generations on the dance floor at once, especially since the custom allowing children - accompanied by their nannies - to watch the Set Reel from the balcony was revived in 2011. It is always a delight to see a row of eager faces watching their parents dancing in the Great Room below.
The Royal Caledonian's Bi-Centenary Ball is due to be held in Spring 2022. You can read more about its history here.
A brief timeline of the Ball
1851: First mention of the Royal Caledonian Ball
1822: The "Grand Caledonian Ball" is first held at Almack's Assembly Rooms, London.
1904: The Ball moves from Hotel Metropole (now the Corinthia) to the Hotel Cecil (now Shell Mex)
1886: The Ball moves to the New Club in Covent Garden, the Prince of Wales' favoured venue.
1946: Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen) attends the Ball. She remains the Ball's Royal Patron to this day.
1959: One of 6 Royal Patrons that year, HM The Queen Mother attends the Ball.
2022: The Ball's bi-centenary year
1841: Her Majesty Queen Victoria formally grants her patronage of the Ball.
1864: The newly married Prince and Princess of Wales attend the Ball.
1910: 46 years after first attending the Ball, King Edward VII's death causes its cancellation.
1930: The Ball moves to its current home, Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Avenue, London.
1892: The Duchess of Atholl replaces the traditional quadrille with the Eightsome Reel.
1990: HRH The Princess Royal becomes the Ball's Patron.
2011: Lady Dalmeny reinstates the tradition of children being allowed to watch the Set Reel.