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John Brown

During his youth, John Brown (1827–83) worked as a stable boy in Pannanich, Deeside. He joined the Royal Household in 1851 as a ghillie to Prince Albert but was soon promoted to the position of Queen’s Personal Attendant, despite bearing none of the sycophancy of the court. The queen found that during the depths of her mourning, Brown was one of few people who could enhance her mood. Brown wears two medals on his left lapel: the Faithful Servant Medal and the Victoria Devoted Service Medal. The latter medal was awarded to Brown following his part in preventing an attack against the queen by Arthur O’Connor at Buckingham Palace on 29 February 1872.

This portrait of John Brown’s parents was taken outside their farm near Crathie. On the left stands John Brown Snr (1791–1875), the father of John Brown, Queen Victoria’s personal attendant. His mother Margaret (née Leys) (c.1800–76), whom Queen Victoria described as ‘a big stout woman’, is seated on the right wearing a white bonnet. The woman standing in the middle may possibly be Ann, the couple’s daughter.