Skip to Content

King Charles is opening up Balmoral Castle for the first time

<i>Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>A general view of Balmoral Castle
Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
A general view of Balmoral Castle

By Billy Stockwell, CNN

(CNN) — King Charles III is opening the doors of Balmoral Castle this summer for the most intimate tours ever permitted around the British royal family’s much-loved private Scottish home.

The tours will run daily from July 4 to August 11 but a booking frenzy saw all the tickets – priced at £100 ($126) – snapped up by royal fans within 24 hours.

Situated on the bank of the Dee river in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, the Balmoral estate has been the Scottish residence of the clan since 1852, when it was bought by Prince Albert for his wife, Queen Victoria.

Things got off to a rocky start for the couple. The original property was deemed too small for the royal family so another, more substantial, castle had to be built just 100 yards away. Since then, the 50,000-acre estate has provided comfort and privacy for the Windsors, particularly during times of crisis.

This summer, for the first time since the castle was completed in 1856, visitors will be given unprecedented access to parts of the royal retreat that have never been open to the public before.

The move to open up the grounds appears to be part of a broader drive by the King to make royal residences more accessible. The East Wing of Buckingham Palace, which includes the famous central balcony where members of the royal family gather for public appearances, will also be open to the public this summer for the first time. Meanwhile, the grounds of other royal properties like Windsor, Sandringham, Holyroodhouse and Highgrove have routinely opened up for various events.

Back at Balmoral, perhaps one of the tour’s most impressive pit stops will be the castle’s ballroom, which was where the late Queen Elizabeth II lay in rest before making the six-hour journey to Edinburgh in September 2022.

An exhibition held in the ballroom will display a collection of the watercolor artworks by the King’s own hand, depicting scenery at Balmoral and two other royal estates, Highgrove and Sandringham, as well as outfits worn by Charles, his late mother, his grandmother and his wife, Queen Camilla.

During the hour-long tour, which is restricted to 10 people, visitors will be taken on a “historical journey” from the purchase of the estate in the 1850s to the present day, according to the estate’s website. “You will see why Balmoral is such a special place,” the website says.

There’s also the opportunity to celebrate the occasion with a serving of traditional afternoon tea at the onsite restaurant, for an extra £50 – around $63.

As well as the grouse shoots, picnics and muddy dog walks that keep members of the family entertained during the long summer days, the estate has also been a place of solace where the royals can enjoy time out of the limelight.

It is where Prince William and Prince Harry were told the tragic news that their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had died. More recently, it is where Queen Elizabeth II spent her final days as England’s longest reigning monarch.

“I think granny is most happy there,” Princess Eugenie told ITV in 2016. “It’s a lovely base for granny and grandpa to be for us to come and see them.”

But despite the privacy that Balmoral affords the family, it isn’t the first time that the estate has been open to the public. Previous tours have allowed visitors to explore parts of the estate’s grounds and gardens, but access has always been limited to just one room inside the castle itself.

It is also a little known fact that you can book out five cottages found within the estate’s walls. Some lucky guests have even bumped into the landlord during their stay.

“That’s exactly what happened to me this summer while taking an evening walk around the castle,” former CNNer Jill O’Brien wrote in 2013. “Several loud barking corgis ran up to say hello. It took a minute to realize that the elderly woman walking the dogs was Queen Elizabeth II.”

Charles and Camilla tend to travel to Balmoral in August for a late-summer break. The trip this year will no doubt provide some welcome respite for the couple following the King’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

At the end of the tour, visitors can mark the occasion by purchasing some homemade preserves or Balmoral whisky from the Mews Gift Shop – or perhaps some tweed, which might last a lot longer.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Style

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content