Margaret Elliot

A clan chief is the focal point of a family, so when people from all over the world want advice on the history of the clan, the area and the genealogical context of their forefathers, they come to me.

The position is very rewarding. When people visit me they're visibly excited and interested in their history, and I feel honoured to be able to give them a bit of background on their forefathers.

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I inherited the title of clan chief from my father, who was the 28th chief of the Elliot clan. I'm the 29th. He didn't have anyone else to hand it over to as I was his only child. Seeming like the suitable thing to do, I moved into the Scottish Borders and met with the Lord Lyon, Scotland's heraldic authority, to ratify that I was indeed the clan chief and allowed to wear my three feathers, something only the chief is entitled to do.

I was born in London, but the family managed to hold on to Elliot land in the Borders. I live in the home occupied by the Elliots since the 14th century – not all chiefs have that luxury. I wear my tartan any old time, and my husband and sons enjoy wearing the trews and the kilt whenever they get the opportunity too.

The land has always been important to us, so my father set up an efficient clan society in 1970 after having written a successful book with my mother about the family history. Now there are many different branches. The headquarters are here, and we have societies in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

They each run their own branches and events, but send a percentage of their earnings back here to help pay for our clan museum. It also enables me to send out newsletters and hold a gathering every four years. You don’t make a fortune out of having a clan society, but it washes its face.

I take great pride in my position and I go abroad once a year to represent the clan at highland gatherings around the world. This autumn I'm going to Western Australia to a new highland games to give speeches. This comes naturally because I'm talking about Scotland, something I love.

We're all looking forward to being involved with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year. Fortunately, our clan gathering has coincided with this wonderful opportunity to go and march under the esplanade of the tattoo. I remember as a child watching the event and it's terrifically exciting, with wonderful displays and fantastic pipers. It's been part of Scottish life for ever, so it's very fulfilling.

There will be about 70 Elliots coming from around the world so it will be a special occasion. Everybody is getting their outfits sorted, and we've got to have clan passes. Being a military operation, it's security conscious, and rightly so. I'm in the process of sending everyone some tartan to wear for the march. It won't be too long, we'll be waving banners for about 15 minutes or so during the tattoo. The timing is quite tight, though, so we've got to pay attention.

Each night showcases a different clan and it will be terrific fun. I'm looking forward to it. Anything like this creates a lot of interest in ancestry and shows people from abroad what a wonderful place Scotland is.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle, August 4-26. Visit