SHE is a glamorous queen consort on a fleeting visit to Edinburgh to be a distinguished guest at the Royal Military Tattoo.
But yesterday, Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan took time out of her busy schedule to pay a surprise visit to a Scottish teacher she remembers very fondly and pass judgment on Scotland's "other national drink".
After being a guest of honour at Edinburgh Castle on Wednesday night, Queen Rania arrived at George Heriot's School yesterday to catch up with Robert Dickson, who taught her English during her time at the New English School in Kuwait before outbreak of the first Gulf war.
Earlier in the day, the Jordanian consort announced on social networking website Twitter that Mr Dickson had been her favourite teacher and that she was excited to be going to meet him at the Edinburgh institution at which he is a deputy head.
A surprised Mr Dickson took the call from her staff early – while still in bed – and later rushed to give his guest a tour of the school before discussing its charitable foundation scheme and her work promoting education in Jordan.
Queen Rania told The Scotsman that the 51-year-old Mr Dickson, who has taught at Heriot's since 1991, had been an inspiration to her.
"All of us have memories of a teacher who had a profound impact on our lives and who stays with you," she said. "Someone who has given you something, or given you confidence and brought out the best in you. For me, it's this Scotsman."
She added: "Sometimes Mr Dickson was cruel to be kind with us, but he really did give me a lot of confidence, and I think the knowledge and the skills he has passed on to me have really been invaluable for me carrying out my duties. I am not sure I would have been able to carry them out in the same way if I hadn't had those skills. I am very indebted to him."
Later, she reviewed the meeting on Twitter, stating: "Mr Dickson was just as I remember: passionate about what he does, enthusiastic and full of life".
Mr Dickson taught Queen Rania in his English class for three years during his seven years at the international school that, at the time, had pupils from more than 60 countries, including a girl from Blantyre.
He recalled his royal visitor as a hard-working pupil. "I remember teaching her," he said. "I taught her for three out of her five senior school years.
"She sat right at the front of my class – not because she was placed there, she was just one of those pupils. I suppose you would describe her as a model pupil, but she really was. She was very diligent, conscientious and extremely modest. I think that still comes across when you listen to her."
Mr Dickson added: "I am very proud of all of my pupils, but she is the most illustrious I have taught. I was absolutely delighted she came to visit us. We got on well, and it is still exciting to see what she does."
Queen Rania was in Scotland with her husband to celebrate the participation of the Jordanian military in the Tattoo, an event she described as "fantastic".
"I really enjoyed it," she said. "It was a really great performance from all over the world. The audience were so excited, it was really good."
This was Her Majesty's second visit to Scotland after spending a few hours in the country several years ago on her way to the US, and she indicated she wishes to return.
"I would really love to come back here, for a few days at least, with my children and experience more of Scotland. I would like to go to some of the restaurants and try some of the cuisine."
Being at her service, The Scotsman presented Queen Rania with a bottle of regular and diet Irn-Bru as well as a packet of Tunnock's Teacakes so she could sample the finest food Scotland has to offer.
After sampling the low-sugar drink, Queen Rania said: "This is fantastic. This is the diet version and it is still very sweet. It definitely beats Coke any day."
Profile: Mother of four who is dedicated to charity work
HER Majesty Queen Rania al-Abdullah was born Rania Al Yassin on 31 August, 1970, to a Jordanian family of Palestinian origin. She attended the New English School in Kuwait, before going to the American University in Cairo to study business administration.
After graduating in 1991, she pursued a career in banking in Jordan before briefly working in information technology.
She married the then Prince Abdullah bin al-Hussein in June 1993 and the couple have four children, the eldest of whom is Prince Hussein, 16.
Queen Rania dedicates much of her time to charity work, focusing on education and children's health. She runs a programme that rebuilds dilapidated schools, heads a body to help the poor and also works as an advocate of children's rights for Unicef.http://news.scotsman.com/...een--and-model.6485090.jp