They poured soil around a copper beech sapling next to a horse paddock and the cricket pavilion on the Aberdeenshire estate, with Charles quipping: “Let’s hope it will survive.”
It marks the start of the planting season for a scheme called the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), created to mark her 70 years’ service to the nation, which urges people to “plant a tree for the jubilee”.
School pupils from nearby Crathie Primary joined the royals on Friday morning, and handed the Queen a specially made card to mark the end of her traditional summer break at her beloved Scottish residence.
The monarch thanked them for the “very kind” gesture after being presented with the card by Annie Hutchin, aged “six and a half”, and Skye Jones, nine.
Annie said afterwards: “She asked how we made it and said we did a lovely job.”
Some pupils were wearing crowns made of twigs and leaves, prompting the Queen to say: “They don’t look very comfortable, they’re like a bird’s nest.”
The Queen was wearing a leaf-patterned headscarf.
Maia MacDougall, 10, said Charles asked what they had been learning and she told him about counting rings on trees to find out how old they were.
She added: “I’ve never been near the Queen before in person and it felt quite strange, because she’s one of the most famous people in the world, but it was pretty cool.
“I never thought I would meet her.”
The Queen and Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, talked with to children, who showed off their nature projects as part of the QGC initiative, after exploring woods in the Balmoral grounds.
The QGC seeks to “inspire young people as the future custodians of the UK’s green spaces, forests and woodlands”.
Next year, the Queen will become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, having acceded to the throne on February 6 1952, aged 25.
Crathie Primary School headteacher Lilian Field said: “Being out in the forest really helps the children’s self-confidence, building initiative and for mental health and well-being as well, especially after lockdown.
“It was a lovely occasion for us. Giving a card is something we do every year after the Queen finishes her holiday at Balmoral, but this is the first time we’ve given her it in person.
“We made quite a special card this year. Every child made a picture of a tree and we put it together in a concertina-like way. We’re just hoping the Queen has a big desk she can stretch it out on.”
The QGC was designed to “create a lasting legacy” to the Queen by urging people to start their own tree-planting projects across the UK with the call to action: “Plant a tree for the jubilee.”
It encourages planting between October and March to optimise the chance of trees surviving and flourishing.
Everyone from Scout and Girlguiding groups, through to villages, cities, counties, schools and corporations, are urged to play their part in giving back to the environment.
Meanwhile, a special national edition of the Junior Forester Award has been created for the Jubilee year, in conjunction with the Royal Forestry Society, and the Scottish Forestry Society, to inspire children and give them the practical abilities to help with woodland stewardship in their schools and communities.
From Friday, all Jubilee trees can be added to an online QGC Map, creating a digital record of tree-planting across the country https://queensgreencanopy.org/map-education-hub/qgc-map/#/
Scotland has been a welcome place of sanctuary for the royal family since Queen Victoria‘s day, where they relax and enjoy country pursuits in the stunning setting of the Scottish Highlands.