She is the only non-Royal woman to hold Scotland's highest honour - but who was Lady Marion Fraser?

Glasgow Times: Lady Marion Fraser

1 The Order of the Thistle is Scotland’s highest chivalric honour, given by the Queen on St. Andrew’s Day, and entirely in her personal gift - most other honours involve the Prime Minister. Lady Marion Fraser is the only non-Royal woman in the order.

Glasgow Times: Lady Marion Fraser
Lady Fraser with the Deacon Convener of the Trades of Glasgow, Kenneth Sandford, being enrolled as an honorary guild sister and burgess of Glasgow of the rank of Hammerman. She also received the first print of a commemorative painting.

2 Lady Marion was born Marion Anne Forbes in 1932, the daughter of Cathcart shopfloor engineer Bobby and teacher Bessie, who met as members of the world-renowned Glasgow Orpheus Choir. Their daughter was a pupil at Hutchesons’ Grammar School and studied piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She read music at Glasgow University and was president of its Queen Margaret Union.

Glasgow Times: Her Grace the Lord High Commissioner Lady Marion Fraser arrives to take up residence at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, before the start of the General Assembly of The Church of Scotland.

3 In 1954, she joined the Experiment in International Living, a rare opportunity for foreign travel, exchanging with American families. She was billeted on a farm in Vermont, where, according to Lady Marion’s obituary in our sister newspaper The Herald, “the Bourne family opened her eyes to a new world of possibilities and learning through travel.”

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4 Two years later, Lady Marion married Kerr Fraser, who went on to be Permanent Under Secretary of State in the Scottish Office and Principal of Glasgow University, and the couple had four children. She chaired the group that set up the Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy, and joined the boards of Scottish Opera and Laurel Bank School. Later, she chaired Scottish Action on Mental Health and the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust, the Scottish International Piano Competition, Hadeel, a charity backing Palestinian crafts, and Christian Aid.

5 Lady Marion became only the second woman to become Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, representing the monarch. She died on Christmas Day, in 2016.