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The Ilay issue was launched in September 1987 and retained the castle theme of the bank's notes in the 1970s, using enhanced engravings or perspectives of the same five castles. The distinguishing feature of the new notes was the inclusion on the front of a portrait of The Royal Bank of Scotland's first governor, Lord Ilay (1682-1761). Lord Ilay was the right-hand man in Scotland for Britain's first and longest running Prime Minister, Robert Walpole. He was closely involved in the foundation of The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1727 (acting as its first governor) and also set up the British Linen Company in 1746. The engraving of Lord Ilay used on the banknotes is based on the painting of him by Allan Ramsay which is in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Lord Ilay's portrait also features as the watermark on the new notes, replacing that of Adam Smith.
The banknotes also set new standards for the size and clarity of its denomination numbers with the needs of the elderly and the poor sighted to the fore. Other features include an original engraving used on earlier Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes, the facade of the Bank's traditional home at 36 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, the ornate ceiling of the banking hall there, the coat-of-arms of the bank and the bank's brand mark created in 1969.
In 2005 a sixth note was added to the series - a £50 note featuring Inverness Castle
A royal residence in Deeside, Balmoral was built in 1853 to replace an existing building. It was a great favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and has provided successive Royal families with a suitable location in which to enjoy periods of rest, relaxation and, above all, privacy. It is an appropriate reminder of the bank's royal origins on its highest value note.
The only castle in the series not on the mainland of Scotland, Brodick Castle was the home from which the Dukes of Montrose held the Isle of Arran. The Dukes were closely associated with the Royal Bank in its early years. Today the castle dominating the island which has been called 'Scotland in Miniature' is administered by the National Trust for Scotland. The Royal Bank has had a presence on the island for more than seventy-five years, including a mobile bank service for the past thirty.
Glamis Castle was reputedly the scene of Macbeth's murder of King Malcolm II in 1031. It is the seat of the Earl of Strathmore, whose ancestors were deputy governors of The Royal Bank of Scotland. Her Majesty the Queen Mother spent her early years there and Princess Margaret was born in the castle, the last member of the Royal Family to be born in Scotland.
Situated on a cliff on the Ayrshire coast some eleven miles south of Ayr, the former seat of the Marquis of Ailsa was built by Robert Adam, customer of the Royal Bank's subsidiary, Drummonds Bank. It is now one of the properties of the National Trust for Scotland and a well-known tourist attraction. The Eisenhower Suite was presented to Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Second World War.
The castle rock, rising 200 feet above Princes Street, has been a fortification since prehistoric times. The castle itself is steeped in antiquity and since the eleventh century has been closely linked with the history of Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed from a number of British banks. The three main Scottish ones - The Royal Bank of Scotland (1727), Commercial Bank of Scotland (1810) and National Bank of Scotland (1825) - were all founded in Edinburgh.
This note, issued on 14 September 2005, was added to the Ilay series exactly eighteen years after its launch in 1987. It is the first £50 note to be introduced by The Royal Bank of Scotland since 1727 and features an image of Inverness Castle on the reverse. This castle was chosen in recognition of Inverness becoming Scotland's fifth city in 2001. The bank's links with Inverness can be traced back to the 1820s when two of the Royal Bank's past constituents opened branches there.