Royal Family’s summer residence Balmoral opens to public

Royal Family’s summer residence Balmoral opens to public
Royal Family’s summer residence Balmoral opens to public

The King’s taste in interior design is showcased during an extensive tour of Balmoral, for the first time in the building’s history.

Charles has thrown open the doors of his Scottish retreat to the public, giving them a glimpse of royal family life in the Highlands.

From Monday, visitors can tour some of the rooms at Aberdeenshire Castle, where successive monarchs since Queen Victoria have been able to relax and recharge among the local Scots who have treated them as their own.

Balmoral’s library which Charles uses as a study (Visitor Enterprise for Balmoral Castle / PA)

James Hamilton Goddard, Visitor Services Manager for the Balmoral Estate, worked with his team to open the Entrance Hall, Red Corridor, Main and Family Dining Rooms, Page’s Lobby, Library and Drawing Room to the public.

He said: “It’s a beautiful place, I think the king wants people to see it. Our department was asked to put this together and we put this together.

“The public who managed to get a ticket will have seen the royal family’s holiday home – that’s what it is, it feels very homely.”

Charles is the latest in a long line of kings and queens to put their own stamp on Balmoral since Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love with the area and had the castle built in the 1850s.

Balmoral Castle painted by King Charles (Joe Giddens/PA)

The King has changed the carpets in the drawing room back to Hunting Stewart tartan, the original style of carpeting Victoria had installed in the castle.

The walls of Balmoral are hung with paintings by Victorian artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, selected by Charles, who inherited his great-great-grandmother Victoria’s passion for the painter and sculptor.

Landseer is best known for designing the lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. He was invited to Balmoral each summer to teach painting to Victoria and Albert.

The castle’s library, once the breakfast and lunch room of Victoria and her consort, is now used by the King as his working study, where he has welcomed dignitaries from all over the world.

The books on the shelves include volumes on Scottish history, particularly on the clans of the Highlands, speeches by Albert, as well as novels and books on poetry and art.

Balmoral has been the summer home of the Royal Family since the reign of Queen Victoria (Visitor Enterprise for Balmoral Castle/PA)

Mr Hamilton Goddard said: “The public actually sees the library, now used as His Majesty’s study, which is possibly one of the finest rooms in the whole house.”

The special objects on display include the driver’s whistle, which was once used to summon the driver. This whistle can be seen in the red hallway and is decorated with printed flock wallpaper that Victoria commissioned from William Morris, a pioneer in the field of arts and crafts.

Visitors can also see the dinner gong, which was used to summon Balmoral guests and made from materials salvaged from the British warship Temeraire that fought in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Tickets for the tours cost £100 or £150 including afternoon tea. They sold out within 24 hours of the sale going on sale. Only 40 people were allowed to visit the royal residence each day, from 1 July to 4 August.

The opening takes place before the King and Queen arrive in Balmoral for their summer holidays, but there is a royal touch for those having cake and sandwiches.

At Charles’ request, tea will be served to visitors on a replica of the White Stewart Tartan China used by the Royal Family at Balmoral.

Previously, visitors could only visit Balmoral’s ballroom and the castle grounds, and the new tour includes a visit to the ballroom where Victoria performed dances and the royal family still holds ghillies balls to entertain staff.