Recreation of Jacobite ambush to be staged during Tattoo

This year's Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will get underway on Friday.
This year's Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will get underway on Friday.
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Scenes from the Jacobite Risings will be played out at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo as it emerged more than 3000 clan members will go on parade at the event this month.

A dramatic “ambush in the glens” will be recreated at Edinburgh Castle - which Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to lay siege to in 1745 - at the height of this year’s show.

The Tattoo which will be seen by representatives of nearly 60 clans throughout its 25-show run following an extensive “Splash the Tartan” publicity campaign which got underway last November.

An acclaimed comic book artist who has previously worked on The Beano and The Broons will be helping to turn the esplanade into a “Highland glen” thanks to giant projections of specially-created illustrations by Stephen White, better known as Stref, for the Jacobites sequence, which will be accompanied by music from the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Clansmen and women from around the world will also march from the castle’s great hall to the esplanade for an introduction to the 8000-strong audience at the start of each show as part of a drive to get the Scottish diaspora more involved in the production than ever before.

Each member of the audience is being encouraged to wear tartan to the show, while a new “Splash of Tartan” score has been written for the event by the leading Scottish piper Finlay MacDonald.

Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of the Tattoo, said: “We wanted our programme this year to chime with Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and our ‘Splash of Tartan’ theme really feeds into that.

“We’re inviting everyone who is coming along to get dressed up, even if they’ve never been to Scotland before or only have a whisper of Scottish heritage, whether it is a hat, plaid, shawl or kilt. We’ve been working in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland, which has a fantastic Jacobite exhibition on just now, and of course Outlander has also just started to be shown on television here.

“We wanted to have a bit of a cameo involving the Jacobites and Government troops without hitting that mark too heavily, so we’ll be doing that musically. We’ve also got an incredible cartoon strip to help tell the story of a patrol returning to the castle from a few days in the Highlands.

"They let their guard down for a few moments and the Highlanders are waiting for them to carry out an ambush. It gives us an opportunity to use some special effects. It’ll be great fun.”

Sir Malcolm MacGregor, convenor of the Standing Council of Scottish Clan Chiefs, said: “The invitation to participate in the Tattoo is a wonderful opportunity for the clans and their families.

“It’s generated great interest and excitement throughout the clan network in Scotland and abroad. It’s of great historic significance, as Edinburgh Castle stood firm against Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highland army in 1745. It is the first time the clans have been formally invited to parade within the castle ramparts.

"Millions of people all over the world are of Scottish descent and are taking even more interest in their ancestry and heritage. Showcasing the clans in all their finery at the Tattoo will bring added colour and spectacle to such a world class event.

"Many clans have organised gatherings and events in their traditional lands, in conjunction with their performance at the Tattoo."

Among the leading overseas acts will be the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Central Band, the country’s first representatives at the event, and the Indian Naval Band, who will mark India’s 70th anniversary.

The esplanade will be transformed into the deck of the UK’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for a drill display from the Queen’s Colour Squadron and the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment.

Shetland fiddle troupe "Hjaltibonhoga" will be bringing their own longship, The Mirrie Dancer," as well as a Viking Jarl Squad, to help mark the invasions and settlement of their islands.

More than 98 per cent of tickets have been sold for the event, which is now worth £77 million for the economy.