The first Highland regiment, the Black Watch was originally raised from clans openly loyal to the status quo to police the Highlands, which were deemed to be both rebellious and lawless by the contemporary British establishment.
However, due to a pressing need for personnel in North America during the Seven Years’ War, William Pitt the elder made the decision to raise new Highland regiments to fight in this imperial war. The war ended victory and among other things, Canada was secured as a part of the British Empire, while the British East India Company’s position in India was consolidated and expanded, both at the expense of the French. These Highland regiments were disbanded after the war, but other Highland regiments were later raised and, like the rest of the British Army, saw service in various wars including in the British colonization of India and the Peninsular War.
By the Victorian era the loyalty of the Highlanders was no longer suspect. Moreover perhaps due to Queen Victoria’s well-known love for all things Scottish, in particular things pertaining to the Highlands, as well as the celebrated role of Highland regiments in Victorian conflicts such as the Crimean War and the putting down of the Indian Mutiny, the Highland regiments earned a reputation which influenced the mindset of Scottish regiments which are thoroughly Lowland in origin.
Among other things, this resulted in the wearing of tartan by Lowland regiments which previously wore uniforms not clearly distinguishable from their Irish, Welsh and English counterparts. Also the world-wide popularity of the Great Highland Bagpipe owes much to the regimental bagpipe band present all over the world due to the stationing of Highland regiments throughout the British Empire and their role in many wars fought by Britain. Many extant Highland regiments that are not in the armed forces of the United Kingdom have formed formal honorary affiliations with Highland regiments therein.
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