WITH HOPES of a normal 'in person' Royal Highland Show stymied by the country's slow emergence from Covid restrictions, its organisers, the Royal and Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland are now preparing for a 'behind closed doors' version that will be broadcast to a – hopefully – enthusiastic worldwide audience via the internet between 14th and 20th June.

This week the RHASS announced that its long-term partner, Royal Bank of Scotland, will be backing this Royal Highland 'Showcase', live-streamed from the Ingliston showground outside Edinburgh, just as it has backed every normal show since 1981.

With the bank's backing, alongside significant funding from the Scottish Government, the live event's livestock judging, exhibitions and show jumping will be enhanced with hundreds of hours of ‘on demand’ programming accessible from a dedicated Showcase website, including chef demonstrations, farrier exhibitions, forestry skills, educational programming from the Royal Highland Education Trust and much more. All content will be free to view and can be accessed via www.royalhighlandshow.org from Monday 14th June. 

With over 1100 livestock exhibitors and close to 2000 equestrian exhibitors confirmed to be taking part, the hope is that this ambitious project will see Scottish agriculture take centre stage and mark the return to events following the crippling pandemic. It is also expected that the RHASS will learn mightily from the live-streaming aspect, which may then be incorporated in future Royal Highland Shows to reach beyond the usual in-person throng.

RBS Scotland chairman Malcolm Buchanan said: “Royal Bank of Scotland support one in three farming businesses in Scotland and has been a long-term supporter of the Royal Highland Show. While we are disappointed that we cannot all be together in the showground this year, we are however delighted to be part of this pioneering hybrid event which will see farmers in the ring and the public getting a front row seat to the live action. This very much fits will our digital banking strategy, which provides a five-star services to our clients.”

As is often the case with the live event, there have been strong entries for the equestrian classes in particular. Chief Steward of Heavy Horses, Tom Tennant said: “It has been brilliant to see the clear enthusiasm of our equestrian competitors reflected in entry numbers for the Royal Highland Showcase this year.

“The Showcase will be a unique chance for viewers from around the world to see our top-class equestrian talent, including Scottish favourites like the Clydesdales, Highlands and Shetlands. The Show Jumping classes especially will be one to watch, as the excitement of the jumping rings is captured live on film for people to watch at home.

“We know it has been a long wait to get their horses and ponies back in the show rings, and are very much looking forward to seeing them back at their best after long months without shows of any kind.”

Foodie fans will also be able to watch some of Scotland’s top chefs cook up a storm on the live-stream, where films of the chefs demonstrating their signature dishes will be available as part of the on-demand content for viewers to watch for free. This will include Neil Forbes of Café St Honore, Paul Newman of Thyme Bistro at Errichel in Perthshire, Craig Wilson, a.k.a the Kilted Chef, of Eat on the Green in Aberdeenshire, and Billy Hamilton, director of Buccleuch Arms in the Scottish Borders, along with his Head Chef Gareth Gilder.

Cookery Theatre co-ordinator Wendy Barrie, commented: “I guarantee, whatever your cooking skills, you will learn tips from these experts and be highly entertained along the way. Their year-round support of Scottish produce is absolute and their loyalty to the Royal Highland over the years outstanding."