Royals open Balmoral Castle to extensive public tours for first time

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The royal family is opening the doors of Balmoral Castle to the public from Monday and giving extensive tours for the first time in more than 170 years.

Visitors will be able to take a guided tour of a number of rooms in the Aberdeenshire castle, such as the entrance hall, red corridor, main and family dining rooms, page’s lobby, library and drawing room.

And they will be able to judge the additions made by King Charles since he became monarch, including his decision to change the drawing room carpets back to Hunting Stewart tartan – the original style chosen by Queen Victoria.

Tickets for the guided tours – priced at £100 or £150 with afternoon tea – sold out within 24 hours of going on sale, with 40 people a day allowed to visit from 1 July to 4 August.

James Hamilton-Goddard, visitor enterprise manager for the estate, said: “It’s a magnificent place, I think the king wants people to see [it].

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

The royal summer retreat has been a royal residence since it was bought by Prince Albert in 1852 for a reported £32,000. It is often cited as Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite residence, and is where she died in 2022.

Balmoral’s walls are hung with paintings – selected by Charles – by the Victorian artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, a favourite of his great-great-great grandmother, Victoria.

Landseer is best known for creating the lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and was invited to Balmoral every summer to teach Victoria and Albert to paint.

The castle’s library, which was once Victoria and her consort’s breakfast and lunch room, is today used by the king as his study.

Other items on display include the chauffeur’s whistle, used in previous years to call the driver. Visitors can also see the dinner gong, used to summon Balmoral guests and made from materials salvaged from HMS Temeraire.

The public have previously only been able to visit Balmoral’s ballroom and the grounds of the castle. The opening takes place before the king and queen arrive at Balmoral for their summer break.


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