The announcement was clear: during his treatment for cancer, the King will continue to complete his paperwork and state business but will postpone all public-facing duties. Not only will the postponement be something he personally regrets, it will be deeply felt wherever those public duties are having an effect, particularly in Scotland.

The connection the King feels for Scotland was obvious from the start of his reign, and long before it – in both formal and informal ways. Last July, I watched the “Scottish coronation” at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and saw the King place his hand on the sceptre and promise to seek the prosperity of the nation. “I so promise by God’s help,” he said. The nation was Scotland. It was a Scottish service for a Scottish king, and we felt it.

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The music the King chose for that service also told the story of his love for the country that his mother loved dearly too. I spoke to Jay Capperauld, who was commissioned to write Schiehallion for the service, and it was a piece made of three traditional folk tunes personally selected by the King to reflect his connection with Scotland. The soundtrack of this King’s reign is distinctly Scottish.

But that’s only the formal bit – much of the work the King has been doing, and has now been forced to postpone, is much more informal.

In 2016, I was at my local town hall, in New Cumnock in Ayrshire, for a small and friendly event during which the then Prince of Wales officially opened it after a refurbishment funded by his charity The King’s Foundation. The Foundation had agreed to take on the work after the King made a private, and totally unpublicised visit to the hall to talk to locals about what they needed and what he might be able to do.

When the hall opened after the refurbishment a few years later, it was a noticeably unstuffy event. There weren’t many people there – just some locals and a few dignitaries but we saw the then Prince, relaxed, informal, explain what he was trying to do. The hall is just a few miles from Dumfries House, which the King saved for the nation in 2007. “When I first took on Dumfries House,” he said, “it was always my greatest ambition to do as much as possible for communities surrounding the estate.”

The Herald: King Charles in ScotlandKing Charles in Scotland (Image: free)

Quietly, and without all the necessary trumpets and ceremony we saw at St Giles, he has got on and done exactly that. He often stays at Dumfries House and I’ve spoken to locals who’ve seen him walking about the estate and he’s happy to stop and chat. Unfailingly, they say how unpretentious and friendly he is but they are also grateful for the work he’s done in the community: those public-facing duties again.

Undoubtedly, the King fell for Dumfries House and Ayrshire in the way his mother fell for Balmoral and Aberdeenshire and the effects are clear for all to see. The communities around Dumfries House suffered badly from the end of the mining industry. But step by step, the Royal effect has been felt: heritage-led regeneration is happening and the estate is now the second biggest employer in the county.

The work the King does also reflects some of the interests and passions he had as the Prince of Wales and continues to pursue as King. I’ve spoken to many of the young men and women who’ve benefited from The Modern Artisan for example, a training programme run by The King’s Foundation that prepares students for working in fashion and textiles.

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And it’s just one of the schemes: there are also programmes for hospitality, engineering, or traditional skills such as stonemasonry; in fact, across the year, some 15,000 people take part in all the projects that are based on the estate. Recently, I spoke to a group of students who built a bird hide as part of their training; it is the end result of the traditional skills that the King values so much and wishes to protect.

There are other much more formal, and international, duties of course, but these are just some of the signs of the quiet legacy the King has been building in Scotland, and he will be keen to get back to them.

At the service at St Giles, the Honours of Scotland Ensemble, specially assembled for the service, sang of the Highlands, an organ piece composed by James MacMillan brought to mind the hills of Ayrshire, while Nicola Benedetti’s violin piece travelled hundreds of miles from the Orkney islands.

These are the places the King loves and when his public-facing duties resume, it will be Scotland that he returns to without delay.