When Queen Victoria first travelled to Balmoral Castle, she wrote in her diary that the castle was her "dear paradise in the Highlands". For over 150 fifty years now the castle has been the royal family’s main summer home (Sandringham House is the secondary holiday home) and the castle retains a slight air of mystery. Situated up in the north of Scotland in a location that isn’t the easiest to get to, Balmoral Castle has everything from a water garden to grazing areas for Highland cattle.
But what is the main role of Balmoral Castle? Well it has a few important functions that make it more than just a summer home for royalty.
Most people don’t know this, but Balmoral isn’t actually owned by the Crown. This is because the house was originally partly bought by Prince Albert, and not direct royalty. The house was passed down to each descendant and would have been property of the Windsors today if Edward VIII hadn’t have abdicated as king in 1936. This means that any revenue made by the castle can’t be claimed by Parliament on behalf of the public. Instead any money goes towards a group of trustees.
If you’re lucky enough to ever have a £100 note from the Bank of Scotland in your wallet, you’ll see that an illustration of the castle is printed on. The castle was a custom property built by the royal family and was seen as a bit of a weird choice for a building. During its construction, many wondered why a castle was being built. After all it was the 19th century, not the medieval times, and there was no real chance of knights trying to invade any time soon. Critics argue the building highlights the importance of influence the royal family was able to have during a time when the focus of power was shifting more and more towards Westminster. Just imagine the Queen deciding today that she wanted to have a castle erected. The public would be in uproar and claim it to be a massive waste of money.
The castle is a place of work for roughly 100 people, as they look after the building and the farmland surrounding. Much of the land is protected as an area to breed grouse and cattle, and the closest a person can get to catching animals is with a spot of fishing (although you’ll need to buy a permit to cast any lines)
In recent history, the castle was where the Queen resided when Princess Diana died. If you’ve seen the movie The Queen, you’ll know the significance of the location, although the actual castle wasn’t used for filming.