Rifle Queen Victoria gave John Brown acquired for the nation

A hunting rifle given by Queen Victoria to her loyal servant John Brown has been acquired by National Museums Scotland from a private US collection.

The rifle will go on public display for the first time this summer in a major exhibition titled Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland.

A gold plaque fitted into the butt of the .450 double-barrelled hammer rifle records that Victoria presented it to Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873.

It was manufactured that year in Edinburgh by noted gun maker Alexander Henry.

Dr Patrick Watt, curator of the exhibition, said: “This a tremendously significant acquisition for National Museums Scotland.

“It is a stunning object which shows directly the connection and the affection between Queen Victoria and John Brown.

“The high-quality design and obvious expense of the gift highlights the position of trust and esteem in which the Queen held her loyal servant.

“We are delighted to be putting it on display in Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland.

“In the exhibition, we explore the reality behind the romantic fascination with Scotland that spread across the world in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and so infatuated Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert as they created their Highland idyll at Balmoral.”

Brown had worked on the Balmoral estate since 1842, and rose in the Queen’s favour to special status as Her Majesty’s Highland Servant.

He died unexpectedly in 1883.

The exhibition will feature more than 300 items including a tartan dress worn by Victoria, the suit of Highland dress uniform worn by Brown in his role, and a Gaelic edition of the Queen’s journal detailing her life in the Highlands.

It spans the period from the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 to the death of Victoria in 1901.

The exhibition runs at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from June 26 until November 10.

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