ROYAL Visits are usually occasions splashed across the pages of the local press of the area being graced by one.
However, could there have been at least one such regal visitation to our area which was kept very low-key, given it took place at the very height of World War Two?
That ‘secret visit’ is thought to have taken place in 1942 when a ‘Royal’ is thought to have popped into see the vital work being carried out at the Tinto House Hotel, then being used as a war casualty hospital.
In fact, this was the building’s second stint in this role, being given over to casualties of World War One - reputedly wounded officers - shortly after its completion in 1915.
The building resumed its hotel role but just over 20 years later the second global conflict came around and so it was ‘back to duty’ for the Tinto, this time as a hospital for Polish servicemen, at least for part of the war.
Many Polish units were temporarily based around the Clydesdale area, particularly the Upperward and Douglas Valley, after their members had escaped their invaded homeland to fight the Nazis again, this time in British uniforms.
(The graves of some of them are still to be found at the nearby ‘Shepherds’ Cemetery’ on the outskirts of Symington.)
Since the last war the hotel has undergone various changes of management and the latest change has brought to light that mysterious Royal Visit.
Now the new owners of Tinto House Hotel are appealing for help from Gazette readers to solve that Royal mystery that dates back to the Second World War.
The appeal comes after the discovery of a photograph, originally thought to be of The Queen, then still a very young woman, visiting the Lanarkshire hotel in 1942.
The Tinto House, which this year is celebrating its centenary, came under new management last year and members of the team running it found the photograph the building’s office area.
The new team have been unable to find any local record of The Queen’s visit and so the hotel’s management team wrote to Buckingham Palace to see if Her Majesty herself could shed any light.
Receiving an eagerly-awaited reply, The Queen’s Lady In Waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, responded, explaining that the person in the photo was NOT Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II - but WAS the Queen’s late aunt, Princess Mary, who bears an uncanny family resemblance to our current Queen.