Customs

Royal Right to Summer Snowballs


Foulis Scotland Snowball

As has been previously noted in articles such as this one, the real estate agreements involving the British royal family can be a bit outdated or unusual. None, however, can surpass the obligations placed upon Scotland’s Clan Munro.

In 1608, Scotland’s King James VI declared that the disputed lands that had belonged to Hector Munro, 13th Baron of Foulis, would thenceforth belong to Hector’s son, Robert. Among the properties included was the forest of Foulis.

The land charter contained one interesting proviso. Munro and his descendants could continue to hold the property, on the condition that the holder of the land should furnish a snowball to the reigning monarch on any day of the year if required, even in midsummer.

Foulis Castle (top) and Ben Wyvis (bottom)

While the condition may seem a tad unusual, it is, by no means, impossible. Located within the boundaries of the land is the majestic mountain, Ben Wyvis. The snow atop the mountain routinely lasts well past midsummer. Most years, patches of snow remain year-round.

The right to the snow was exercised in 1746. When the Duke of Cumberland came through the territory, the Munro clan provided him with snow so he could chill his wines.

A later addendum to the land charter included the additional requirement to provide a pair of white gloves or three pennies. There is no record of a demand being made for either of these payments.

Following the Act of Union in 1707, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England united together as the Kingdom of Great Britain. All of the rights of the Scottish crown were merged with those of the English crown. Consequently, when Elizabeth II became queen in 1952, she also inherited the right to a midsummer’s snowball, if she so fancies one.


Read more fun facts about Scotland.

Read more fun facts about royalty.

3 replies »

  1. Nice story, but Ben Wyvis is nothing like the British Isles’ highest mountain. That honour goes to Ben Nevis. There are at least 84 British mountains higher than Ben Wyvis.

    Liked by 1 person

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