Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle (/bælˈmɒrəl/) is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, near the village of Crathie, 6.2 miles (10 km) west of Ballater and 6.8 miles (11 km) east of Braemar.

Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British royal family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were purchased privately by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. It remains the private property of the royal family and is not part of the Crown Estate.

Soon after the estate was purchased by the royal family, the existing house was found to be too small and the current Balmoral Castle was commissioned. The architect was William Smith of Aberdeen, although his designs were amended by Prince Albert.

The castle is an example of Scottish baronial architecture, and is classified by Historic Scotland as a category A listed building.[1] The new castle was completed in 1856 and the old castle demolished shortly thereafter.

The Balmoral Estate has been added to by successive members of the royal family, and now covers an area of approximately 50,000 acres (20,000 ha). It is a working estate, including grouse moors, forestry, and farmland, as well as managed herds of deer, Highland cattle, and ponies.

Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle
TypeScots baronial mansion
LocationRoyal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Coordinates57°2′27″N 3°13′48″W / 57.04083°N 3.23000°WCoordinates: 57°2′27″N 3°13′48″W / 57.04083°N 3.23000°W
BuiltCompleted in 1856
ArchitectWilliam Smith, directed by Prince Albert
Balmoral Castle is located in Aberdeen
Balmoral Castle
Location in Aberdeenshire, Scotland


Robert Gordon Litho
After 1830, Sir Robert Gordon made major alterations to the original castle - lithograph by Josef Kriehuber, 1846

King Robert II of Scotland (1316–1390) had a hunting lodge in the area. Historical records also indicate that a house at Balmoral was built by Sir William Drummond in 1390.[2] The estate is recorded in 1451 as "Bouchmorale", and later was tenanted by Alexander Gordon, second son of the 1st Earl of Huntly. A tower house was built on the estate by the Gordons.[3]

In 1662, the estate passed to Charles Farquharson of Inverey, brother of John Farquharson, the "Black Colonel". The Farquharsons were Jacobite sympathisers, and James Farquharson of Balmoral was involved in both the 1715 and 1745 rebellions. He was wounded at the Battle of Falkirk in 1746. The Farquharson estates were forfeit, and passed to the Farquharsons of Auchendryne.[4] In 1798, James Duff, 2nd Earl Fife, acquired Balmoral and leased the castle. Sir Robert Gordon, a younger brother of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, acquired the lease in 1830. He made major alterations to the original castle at Balmoral, including baronial-style extensions that were designed by John Smith of Aberdeen.[3]

Royal acquisition

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first visited Scotland in 1842, five years after her accession to the throne and two years after their marriage. During this first visit they stayed at Edinburgh, and at Taymouth Castle in Perthshire, the home of the Marquess of Breadalbane.[3] They returned in 1844 to stay at Blair Castle and, in 1847, when they rented Ardverikie by Loch Laggan.[5] During the latter trip they encountered weather that was extremely rainy, which led Sir James Clark, the queen's doctor, to recommend Deeside instead, for its more healthy climate.[6]

Sir Robert Gordon died in 1847 and his lease on Balmoral reverted to Lord Aberdeen. In February 1848 an arrangement was made—that Prince Albert would acquire the remaining part of the lease on Balmoral, together with its furniture and staff—without having seen the property first.[7]:5

Dronning victoria
Detail of state portrait of Victoria by George Hayter, 1837

The royal couple arrived for their first visit on 8 September 1848.[8] Victoria found the house "small but pretty",[9] and recorded in her diary that: "All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils".[4] The surrounding hilly landscape reminded them of Thuringia, Albert's homeland in Germany.[7]:5

Quickly, the house was confirmed to be too small and, in 1848, John and William Smith were commissioned to design new offices, cottages, and other ancillary buildings.[10] Improvements to the woodlands, gardens, and estate buildings also were being made, with the assistance of the landscape gardener, James Beattie, and possibly by the painter, James Giles.[3]

Major additions to the old house were considered in 1849,[10] but by then negotiations were under way to purchase the estate from the trustees of the deceased Earl Fife. After seeing a corrugated iron cottage at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Prince Albert ordered a pre-fabricated iron building for Balmoral from E. T. Bellhouse & Co., to serve as a temporary ballroom and dining room.[11] It was in use by 1 October 1851, and would serve as a ballroom until 1856.[12]

The sale was completed in June 1852, the price being £32,000, and Prince Albert formally took possession that autumn.[3][7]:8[13] The neighbouring estate of Birkhall was bought at the same time, and the lease on Abergeldie Castle secured as well. To mark the occasion, the Purchase Cairn was erected in the hills overlooking the castle, the first of many.

Construction of the new house

Balmoral Castle - Project Gutenberg 13103
Balmoral Castle - a principal keep similar to that of Craigievar Castle is the central feature of the castle, while a large turreted country house is attached

The growing family of Victoria and Albert, the need for additional staff, and the quarters required for visiting friends and official visitors such as cabinet members, however, meant that extension of the existing structure would not be sufficient and that a larger house needed to be built. In early 1852, this was commissioned from William Smith.[13] The son of John Smith (who designed the 1830 alterations of the original castle), William Smith was city architect of Aberdeen from 1852. On learning of the commission, William Burn sought an interview with the prince, apparently to complain that Smith previously had plagiarised his work, however, Burn was unsuccessful in depriving Smith of the appointment.[14] William Smith's designs were amended by Prince Albert, who took a close interest in details such as turrets and windows.[15]

Balmoral by queen
Balmoral Castle, painted by Queen Victoria in 1854 during its construction

Construction began during summer 1853, on a site some 100 yards (91 m) northwest of the original building that was considered to have a better vista.[16] Another reason for consideration was, that whilst construction was ongoing, the family would still be able to use the old house.[7]:9 Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone on 28 September 1853, during her annual autumn visit.[17] By the autumn of 1855, the royal apartments were ready for occupancy, although the tower was still under construction and the servants had to be lodged in the old house.[12] By coincidence, shortly after their arrival at the estate that autumn, news circulated about the fall of Sevastopol, ending the Crimean War, resulting in wild celebrations by royalty and locals alike. While visiting the estate shortly thereafter, Prince Frederick of Prussia asked for the hand of Princess Victoria.[7]:11

Queen Victoria Prince Albert and their nine children
With their nine children, 1857 - left to right: Alice, Arthur, Prince Albert, Edward, Leopold, Louise, Queen Victoria holding Beatrice, Alfred, Victoria, and Helena

The new house was completed in 1856, and the old castle subsequently was demolished.[3] By autumn 1857, a new bridge across the Dee, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel linking Crathie and Balmoral was finished.[7]:11

Balmoral Castle is built from granite quarried at Invergelder on the estate,[18] It consists of two main blocks, each arranged around a courtyard. The southwestern block contains the main rooms, while the northeastern contains the service wings. At the southeast is an 80-foot (24 m) tall clock tower topped with turrets,[19] one of which has a balustrade similar to a feature at Castle Fraser.[20] Being similar in style to the demolished castle of the 1830s, the architecture of the new house is considered to be somewhat dated for its time when contrasted with the richer forms of Scots Baronial being developed by William Burn and others during the 1850s.[19] As an exercise in Scots Baronial, it sometimes is described as being too ordered, pedantic, and even, Germanic—as a consequence of Prince Albert's influence on the design.[20]

The purchase of a Scottish estate by Victoria and Albert and their adoption of a Scottish architectural style, however, was very influential for the ongoing revival of Highland culture. They decorated Balmoral with tartans and attended highland games at Braemar. Queen Victoria expressed an affinity for Scotland, even professing herself to be a Jacobite.[21] Added to the work of Sir Walter Scott, this became a major factor in promoting the adoption of Highland culture by Lowland Scots. Historian Michael Lynch comments that "the Scottishness of Balmoral helped to give the monarchy a truly British dimension for the first time".[22]

Victoria and Albert at Balmoral

Balmoral, c.1890–1900

Even before the completion of the new house, the pattern of the life of the royal couple in the Highlands was soon established. Victoria took long walks of up to four hours daily and Albert spent many days hunting deer and game. In 1849, diarist Charles Greville described their life at Balmoral as resembling that of gentry rather than royalty.[23] Victoria began a policy of commissioning artists to record Balmoral, its surroundings, and its staff. Over the years, numerous painters were employed at Balmoral, including Edwin and Charles Landseer, Carl Haag, William Wyld, and William Henry Fisk.[24] The royal couple took great interest in their staff. They established a lending library.

During the 1850s, new plantations were established near the house and exotic conifers were planted on the grounds. Prince Albert had an active role in these improvements, overseeing the design of parterres, the diversion of the main road north of the river via a new bridge, and plans for farm buildings.[3] These buildings included a model dairy that he developed during 1861, the year of his death. The dairy was completed by Victoria. Subsequently, she also built several monuments to her husband on the estate. These include a pyramid-shaped cairn built a year after Albert's death, on top of Craig Lurachain. A large statue of Albert with a dog and a gun by William Theed, was inaugurated on 15 October 1867, the twenty-eighth anniversary of their engagement.[7]:20–21[25]

Cairn for Prince Albert Balmoral
Memorial cairn for Prince Albert, Balmoral Estate

Following Albert's death, Victoria spent increasing periods at Balmoral, staying for as long as four months a year during early summer and autumn. Few further changes were made to the grounds, with the exception of some alterations to mountain paths, the erection of various cairns and monuments, and the addition of some cottages (Karim Cottage and Baile na Coille) built for senior staff.[3][7]:18 It was during this period that Victoria began to depend on her servant, John Brown. He was a local ghillie from Crathie, who became one of her closest companions during her long mourning.[7]:23

In 1887, Balmoral Castle was the birthplace of Victoria Eugenie, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was born to Princess Beatrice, the fifth daughter of Victoria and Albert. Victoria Eugenie would become the queen of Spain.

In September 1896, Victoria welcomed Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra to Balmoral. Four years later Victoria made her last visit to the estate, three months before her death on 22 January 1901.

After Victoria

EdwardVII at Balmoral
Edward VII relaxing at Balmoral Castle - photograph by his wife, Alexandra, c. 1907-1908

After Victoria's death, the royal family continued to use Balmoral during annual autumn visits. George V had substantial improvements made during the 1910s and 1920s, including formal gardens to the south of the castle.[3]

During the Second World War, royal visits to Balmoral ceased. In addition, due to the enmity with Germany, Danzig Shiel, a lodge built by Victoria in Ballochbuie was renamed Garbh Allt Shiel and the "King of Prussia's Fountain" was removed from the grounds.[7]:25

Since the 1950s, Prince Philip has added herbaceous borders and a water garden. During the 1980s new staff buildings were built close to the castle.[3]


Balmoral Castle porte cochere
The "battlemented" porte cochère. Also called a "carriage porch", this structure is covered to protect guests from inclement weather.

Though called a castle, Balmoral's primary function is that of a country house.[26] It is a "typical and rather ordinary" country house from the Victorian period. The tower and "pepper pot turrets" are characteristic features of the residence's Scottish Baronial style. The seven-storey tower is an architectural feature borrowed from medieval defensive tower houses. The "pepper pot" turrets were influenced by the style of 16th-century French châteaux. Other features of the Scottish Baronial style are the crow-stepped gables, dormer windows, and battlemented porte-cochère.[27]


Balmoral is a private property and, unlike the monarch's official residences, is not the property of the Crown. It originally was purchased personally by Prince Albert, rather than the queen, meaning that no revenues from the estate go to Parliament or to the public purse, as would otherwise be the case for property owned outright by the monarch in accord with the Civil List Act 1760.[28] Along with Sandringham House in Norfolk, ownership of Balmoral was inherited by Edward VIII on his accession in 1936. When he abdicated later the same year, however, he retained ownership of them. A financial settlement was devised, under which Balmoral and Sandringham were purchased by Edward's brother and successor to the Crown, George VI.[29]

Currently, the estate is still owned outright by the monarch, but, by Trustees under Deeds of Nomination and Appointment, it is managed by a trust.[28]

The estate

Current extent and operation

Balmoral Estate is within the Cairngorms National Park and is partly within the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Area.[30] The 50,000-acre (20,000 ha) estate contains a wide variety of landscapes, from the Dee river valley to open mountains. There are seven Munros (hills in Scotland over 3,000 feet (910 m)) within the estate, the highest being Lochnagar at 3,789 feet (1,155 m). This mountain was the setting for a children's story, The Old Man of Lochnagar, told originally by Prince Charles to his younger brothers, Andrew and Edward. The story was published in 1980, with royalties accruing to The Prince's Trust.[7]:35–51[31] The estate also incorporates the 7,500-acre Delnadamph Lodge estate, bought by Elizabeth II in 1978.[32]

The estate extends to Loch Muick in the southeast where an old boat house and the Royal Bothy (hunting lodge) now named Glas-allt-Shiel, built by Victoria, are located.

The working estate includes grouse moors, forestry, and farmland, as well as managed herds of deer, Highland cattle, and ponies.[7]:38–47 It also offers access to the public for fishing (paid) and hiking during certain seasons.[7]:36–37

Approximately 8,000 acres of the estate are covered by trees, with almost 3,000 acres used for forestry that yields nearly 10,000 tonnes of wood per year. Ballochbuie Forest, one of the largest remaining areas of old Caledonian pine growth in Scotland, consists of approximately 3,000 acres. It is managed with only minimal or no intervention.[7]:48,51 The principal mammal on the estate is the red deer with a population of 2,000 to 2,500 head.[7]:44

The areas of Lochnagar and Ballochbuie were designated in 1998 by the Secretary of State for Scotland as Special Protection Areas (SPA) under the European Union (EU) Birds Directive.[33][34] Bird species inhabiting the moorlands include red grouse, black grouse, ptarmigan, and the capercaillie.[7]:38 Ballochbuie also is protected as a Special Area of Conservation by the EU Habitats Directive, as "one of the largest remaining continuous areas of native Caledonian Forest".[35] In addition, there are four sites of special scientific interest on the estate.[30]

The royal family employs approximately 50 full-time and 50–100 part-time staff to maintain the working estate.[36] A malt whisky distillery located on the Balmoral Estate produces the Royal Lochnagar Single Malt whisky.

There are approximately 150 buildings on the estate,[7]:35 including Birkhall, formerly home to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and used now by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall for their summer holidays.[37] Craigowan Lodge is used regularly by the family and friends of the royal family and also has been used while Balmoral Castle was being prepared for a royal visit.[38] Six smaller buildings on the estate are let as holiday cottages.[39]

Public access to gardens and castle grounds

The Balmoral Castle, Scotland
Northwest corner of Balmoral Castle

In 1931, the castle gardens were opened to the public for the first time and they now are open daily between April and the end of July, after which Queen Elizabeth II arrives for her annual stay.[38] The ballroom is the only room in the castle that may be viewed by the public.[40]

Craigowan Lodge

Craigowan Lodge is a seven-bedroom[41] stone house approximately a mile from the main castle in Balmoral.[42][43] More rustic than the castle, the lodge was often the home of Charles and Diana when they visited. Currently, it is used as quarters for important guests.

In the obituary of Michael Andreevich Romanoff, the highest-ranking member of the Russian imperial family at the time of his death in 2008, it was noted that his family spent most of World War II at Craigowan Lodge.[44]

The lodge has been in the news periodically since 2005, because Queen Elizabeth II often spends the first few days of her summer holiday there.[41] During each weekend of the summer the castle is a lucrative source of income from visiting tourists. Sometimes, the Queen arrives at Balmoral before the tourist visiting season is over.[45]

In popular culture

Queen Elizabeth II was in residence at Balmoral at the time of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Her private discussions with then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, were dramatised in the Stephen Frears film, The Queen (2006). The 1997 film Mrs Brown also was based on events at Balmoral. In both films, however, substitute locations were used: Blairquhan Castle in The Queen; and Duns Castle in Mrs Brown.[46][47]

Queen Elizabeth II's visits to Balmoral Castle were also featured in several episodes of the Netflix series The Crown. Ardverikie House was used as a stand-in for the royal estate for filming purposes.[48]

Banknote illustration

Since 1987 an illustration of the castle has been featured on the reverse side of £100 notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.[49]

See also


  1. ^ "BALMORAL CASTLE WITH PARTERRE AND TERRACE WALLS". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire". Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Balmoral Castle". An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Gordon, Seton (2009). "The Country of Balmoral". Seton Gordon's Cairngorms : an anthology. Whittles. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-1-904445-88-3.
  5. ^ Millar, pp.23,31
  6. ^ Millar, p.39
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q MacLean, Charles. Balmoral Highland Estate. Balmoral Castle and Estate.
  8. ^ Millar, pp.40–41
  9. ^ Millar, p.41
  10. ^ a b Millar, p.55
  11. ^ Bellhouse, David (2000). "E.T. Bellhouse and Co. Engineers and Iron Founders" (PDF). David Bellhouse and Sons, Manchester. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  12. ^ a b Millar, p.59
  13. ^ a b Millar, p.56
  14. ^ "William Smith II". Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1840–1980. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  15. ^ Millar, p.57
  16. ^ Millar, pp.56–57
  17. ^ Millar, p.58
  18. ^ Little, G. A. (1981). Scotland's Gardens. Spur Books. ISBN 0-7157-2091-0.
  19. ^ a b Glendinning, Miles; MacKechnie, Aonghus; MacInnes, Ranald (1996). A History of Scottish Architecture. Edinburgh University Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-7486-0849-4.
  20. ^ a b Fenwick, Hubert (1974). Scotland's Historic Buildings. Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7091-4497-0.
  21. ^ Devine, T.M. (2006). The Scottish Nation 1700–2000. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-102769-2.
  22. ^ Lynch, Michael (1992). Scotland: A New History. Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-9893-1.
  23. ^ Millar, p.44
  24. ^ Millar, passim
  25. ^ Millar, p.102
  26. ^ Castleden, Rodney (2014-08-19). The Castles of Britain and Ireland. Quercus. ISBN 978-1-62365-543-3.
  27. ^ Jones, Nigel R. (2005). Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-31850-4.
  28. ^ a b Wightman, Andy (2011). The Poor Had No Lawyers. Edinburgh: Birlinn. p. 113.
  29. ^ "Sandringham House: History". The official website of The British Monarchy. The Royal Household. Archived from the original on 2010-04-16. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  30. ^ a b "Conservation". Balmoral Estates (archived at Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  31. ^ "The Old Man of Lochnagar, 1980". Royal Collection Trust. Inventory no. 1101076.
  32. ^ "The Queen buys grouse moor near Balmoral." The Times, London, 6 Jan. 1978: pg 3.
  33. ^ "Lochnagar SPA: Standard Data Form" (PDF). Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
  34. ^ "Ballolchbuie SPA: Standard Data Form" (PDF). Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
  35. ^ "Ballolchbuie SAC: Site Details". Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
  36. ^ "Employment". Balmoral Estates archived at Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  37. ^ "Birkhall". The Prince of Wales official website. Household of HRH The Prince of Wales. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  38. ^ a b "Castle siege by tourists keeps Queen at bay". Daily Mail. 2 August 2005.
  39. ^ "Current Availability". Balmoral Estates. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  40. ^ "2011 Admission Charges". Balmoral Estate. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  41. ^ a b Michael MacLeod. "Royals in Scotland: Palaces, paparazzi and garden parties". STV News.
  42. ^ "Panorama of Lodge".
  43. ^ Gossip, Shona (28 July 2014). "Queen arrives in Royal Deeside for holiday". Press and Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  44. ^ "Michael Andreevich Romanoff: member of the Russian imperial family". The Times. London. 11 October 2008.
  45. ^ Brocklebank, Jonathan (2 August 2005). "Castle siege by tourists keeps Queen at bay". Daily Mail. London.
  46. ^ "Filming locations for The Queen". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  47. ^ "Filming locations for Mrs Brown". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  48. ^ "8 spectacular filming locations from The Crown to visit as season 2 returns". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  49. ^ "Current Banknotes : Royal Bank of Scotland". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.


  • Millar, Delia (1985). Queen Victoriaʼs life in the Scottish Highlands : depicted by her watercolour artists. London: Philip Wilson. ISBN 0-85667-194-0.

External links

Abergeldie Castle

Abergeldie Castle is a four-floor tower house in Crathie and Braemar parish, SW Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It stands at an altitude of 840 feet (260 m), on the south bank of the River Dee, five miles (8 km) west of Ballater, and about two miles (3 km) east of the royal residence of Balmoral Castle. Behind it rises Creag nam Ban, a rounded granite hill about 527 metres (1,729 ft) high, and across the river to its front is the cairn-crowned Geallaig Hill, rising to 743 metres (2,438 ft).

It is protected as a category A listed building. The castle is the home of Baron Abergeldie.


Ballater (, Scottish Gaelic: Bealadair) is a burgh in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on the River Dee, immediately east of the Cairngorm Mountains. Situated at an elevation of 213 m (700 ft), Ballater is a centre for hikers and known for its spring water, once said to cure scrofula. It is home to more than 1500 inhabitants.

Balmoral, Manitoba

Balmoral is an unincorporated village north of Winnipeg located within the boundaries of the Rural Municipality of Rockwood, Manitoba.

The Post Office opened in 1879 to service the early settlers who began arriving in the area in 1874. There was also a Canadian Pacific railway point on 6-15-2E. The community was named after Balmoral Castle in Scotland. A School District was located on SW7-15-2E. The community was originally known as Quickfall.

Balmoral, New Zealand

Balmoral is a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand that is bordered by Mount Eden, Epsom, Mount Roskill and Sandringham and is located approximately 5 km from the centre of Auckland. It was named around the turn of the 20th century and derives its name from Balmoral Castle, the Scottish country residence of the Royal family. Much of the housing in the area is from the 1920s and 1930s, often in the Californian Bungalow style. Balmoral was part of Mount Eden Borough Council which became a part of Auckland City in 1989. In November 2010, the area was included into the Albert-Eden-Roskill ward of the new Auckland Council.

A distinctive feature is the numerous Asian restaurants that are located in the Balmoral shopping area and the surrounding Dominion Road intersection.

Balmoral bonnet

The Balmoral (more fully the Balmoral bonnet in Scottish English or Balmoral cap otherwise, and formerly called the Kilmarnock bonnet) is a traditional Scottish hat that can be worn as part of formal or informal Highland dress. Developed from the earlier blue bonnet, dating to at least the 16th century, it takes the form of a knitted, soft wool cap with a flat crown. It is named after Balmoral Castle, a royal residence in Scotland. It is an alternative to the similar and related (informal) Tam o' Shanter cap and the (formal or informal) Glengarry bonnet.

Craigston Castle

Craigston Castle is located near Turriff, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and is a historic home of the Urquhart family. It was built 1604–07 by John Urquhart of Craigfintry (died 1631), known as the Tutor of Cromarty. The castle is composed of two main wings flanking the entrance and connected by an elevated arch, and surmounted by a richly corbelled parapet. There are bases for corner turrets near the top corner of each wing, but the turrets themselves do not appear to have ever been completed. The wood carvings in the drawing room depict biblical themes and Clan Urquhart heraldic artifacts.

Craigston Castle belongs to the "Bell group" of Scottish castles, designed by masons of the Bell or Bel family, and which, according to H. Gordon Slade, "together form perhaps Scotland’s finest and the most distinctive contribution to Western architecture". The castle is still owned and lived in by the Urquhart family, who trace their descent back to Adam Urquhart, 14th-century sheriff of Cromarty, although according to Sir Thomas Urquhart, translator of Rabelais, the family can be traced back to Adam and Eve through "Termuth", who he states found Moses in the rushes, as well as many other fantastic ancestors.

John Urquhart of Craigfintry, known as the "Tutor of Cromarty", built the castle in 1604 to 1607, and the design of the castle appears to show his influence as compared with other examples of the "Bell group". It was sold by the Urquharts in 1657, but bought back in 1739 by Captain John Urquhart, known as "the pirate", great-grandson of the builder. The new owner built the flanking wings, and laid out new gardens, though apparently not to the designs prepared in 1733 by William Adam, the foremost architect of the time. In the 1830s John Smith, the architect of Balmoral Castle, prepared designs for an extensive remodelling, though only a new entrance doorway was built. Craigston Castle is now a category A listed building. The Urquhart family retain possession of the castle, and have recently started to host weddings and other events, as well as letting it out as accommodation.

Crathie, Aberdeenshire

Crathie (Scottish Gaelic: Craichidh) is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It stands on the north bank of the River Dee.

Abergeldie Castle is a mile away. It was built around 1550 and had 19th century additions. It was garrisoned by General Hugh Mackay in 1689.

Crathie is seven miles west of Ballater, but only a half a mile or so east of Balmoral Castle. It is best known for its association with the royal inhabitants of the castle, particularly for their patronage of Crathie Kirk, the parish church. Traditionally many of the estate's workers lived at Crathie. Crathie Bridge is one of the more obscure of Brunel's iron bridges, demonstrating his balloon flange girder.

The hills to the south contain a number of memorial cairns, commemorating Prince Albert and some of his children. John Brown,a favoured acquaintance of Queen Victoria's is also buried here.

The Royal Lochnagar Distillery stands on the southern bank of the Dee east of the village. The only producer of a Deeside single malt, it is fed by natural springs rising on the slopes of Lochnagar, a neighbouring Munro.

Crathie Kirk

Crathie Kirk is a small Church of Scotland parish church in the Scottish village of Crathie, best known for being the regular place of worship of the British Royal Family when they are holidaying at nearby Balmoral Castle.

Crathie Kirk is now united with neighbouring Braemar to form a single parish with two places of worship. Eventually this parish will be further enlarged to include Glenmuick (Ballater). The minister (since 2005) is the Reverend Kenneth Mackenzie. Mackenzie was previously minister of the Church of Scotland congregation in Budapest, Hungary (1999–2005).

Deeside Railway

The Deeside Railway was a passenger and goods railway between Aberdeen and Ballater in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Opening in 1853 to Banchory, an extension reached Aboyne in 1859. A separate company, the Aboyne & Braemar Railway, built an extension to Ballater and this opened in 1866. By 1855 there were five services a day over the 43 1⁄4-mile (69.6 km) long line, taking between 1 hour 50 minutes and ​2 1⁄2 hours. The line was used by the Royal Train for travel to and from Balmoral Castle from 1853 and a special 'Messenger Train' ran daily when the Royal Family was in residence.

The railways were absorbed by the Great North of Scotland Railway on 1 August 1875 for the Deeside Railway and 31 January 1876 for the Aboyne & Braemar. The line became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923, and part of British Railways when nationalised in 1948. Passenger services were withdrawn on 28 February 1966 and the line was closed completely to Ballater on 18 July 1966 and to Culter on 2 January 1967.

List of British royal residences

British royal residences are palaces, castles and houses occupied by members of the British royal family in the United Kingdom. Some, like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, are owned by the monarch by virtue of his or her position as king or queen, while others like Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House are personally owned, and they have been passed down for generations. Some royal palaces are no longer residences (e.g., the Palace of Westminster and the Palace of Whitehall). Some remain in irregular use for royal occasions, such as Hillsborough Castle.

The royal palaces enjoy certain legal privileges: for example, there is an exemption from levying duty on alcoholic beverages sold in the bars at the Palace of Westminster and there are exemptions from health and safety legislation. According to Halsbury's Laws of England, it is not possible to arrest a person within the "verges" of a royal palace (though this assertion is contradicted by a memorandum by the Clerk of the House of Commons in respect of the Palace of Westminster) and when a royal palace is used as a residence (regardless of whether the monarch is actually living there at the time), judicial processes cannot be executed within that palace.The occupied royal residences are cared for and maintained by the Royal Household Property Section. The unoccupied royal palaces of England, along with Hillsborough Castle in County Down, are the responsibility of Historic Royal Palaces.

List of listed buildings in Crathie and Braemar, Aberdeenshire

This is a list of listed buildings in the parish of Crathie and Braemar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

River Dee, Aberdeenshire

The River Dee (Scottish Gaelic: Uisge Dhè) is a river in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It rises in the Cairngorms and flows through southern Aberdeenshire to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen. The area it passes through is known as Deeside, or Royal Deeside in the region between Braemar and Banchory because Queen Victoria came to love the place and built Balmoral Castle there.Deeside is a popular area for tourists, due to the combination of scenic beauty and historic and royal associations. The scenic beauty of Deeside is recognised by its inclusion in the Cairngorms National Park and the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Area. The Dee is popular with anglers, and is one of the most famous salmon fishing rivers in the world.The New Statistical Account of Scotland attributed the name Dee as having been used as early as the second century AD in the work of the Alexandrian geographer Claudius Ptolemy, as Δηοῦα (=Deva), meaning 'Goddess', indicating a divine status for the river in the beliefs of the ancient inhabitants of the area. There are several other rivers of the same name in Great Britain, and these are believed to have similar derivations, as may the Dee's near neighbour to the north, the River Don.

Robert Gordon (diplomat)

Sir Robert Gordon (1791 – 8 October 1847) was a British diplomat.

Gordon was a younger son of George Gordon, Lord Haddo (himself the eldest son of the 3rd Earl of Aberdeen) and a brother of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. From 1826 to 1828, he was Envoy Extraordinary to Brazil, to the Ottoman Empire from 1828 to 1831 and to Austria from 1841 to 1847.

In 1830, he acquired a long-term lease of Balmoral Castle. He died in 1847 as the result of choking on a fish bone. Albert, Victoria's Prince Consort, bought the estate from his trustees a year later as a gift for his wife.

Scottish castles

Scottish castles are buildings that combine fortifications and residence, built within the borders of modern Scotland. Castles arrived in Scotland with the introduction of feudalism in the twelfth century. Initially these were wooden motte-and-bailey constructions, but many were replaced by stone castles with a high curtain wall. During the Wars of Independence, Robert the Bruce pursued a policy of castle slighting. In the late Middle Ages new castles were built, some on a grander scale as "livery and maintenance" castles that could support a large garrison. Gunpowder weaponry led to the use of gun ports, platforms to mount guns and walls adapted to resist bombardment.

Many of the late Medieval castles built in the borders were in the form of tower houses, smaller pele towers or simpler bastle houses. From the fifteenth century there was a phase of Renaissance palace building, which restructured them as castle-type palaces, beginning at Linlithgow. Elements of Medieval castles, royal palaces and tower houses were used in the construction of Scots baronial estate houses, which were built largely for comfort, but with a castle-like appearance. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the military significance of castles declined, but they increasingly became tourist attractions. Elements of the Scots Baronial style would be revived from the late eighteenth century and the trend would be confirmed in popularity by the rebuilding of Balmoral Castle in the nineteenth century and its adoption as a retreat by Queen Victoria. In the twentieth century there were only isolated examples of new castle-influenced houses. Many tower houses were renovated, and many castles were taken over by the National Trust for Scotland or Historic Scotland and are open to the public.

Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures

The office of the Surveyor of the King's/Queen's Pictures, in the Royal Collection Department of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, is responsible for the care and maintenance of the royal collection of pictures owned by the Sovereign in an official capacity – as distinct from those owned privately and displayed at Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle and elsewhere. The office has only been full-time since 1972. It now operates in a professional capacity with a staff of a dozen people.

Although the office dates from 1625, there has always been someone responsible for pictures in the Royal Household. Notable recent office-holders have included Sir Lionel Cust (1901–1927), Sir Kenneth Clark (1934–1944), Professor Anthony Blunt (1945–1972), and Sir Oliver Millar (1972–1988). The current Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures is Desmond Shawe-Taylor, appointed in 2005.


Tarland (Gaelic: Turlann) is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and is located five miles northwest of Aboyne, and 30 miles west of Aberdeen. Population 540 (2004).

Tarland is home to the Culsh Earth House, an Iron Age below-ground dwelling that otherwise known as a Souterrain. Souterrains were used to store food and the Culsh Earth House probably served as a community cellar.

Just south of Tarland is the Tomnaverie Stone Circle, a 4000-year-old recumbent stone circle. The land is owned by the MacRobert Trust and in the care of Historic Scotland. The circle was recently restored with help from a donation by the trust.

Melgum Lodge near Tarland was originally built as a hunting lodge for the physician to Queen Victoria who frequently stayed in the vicinity at Balmoral Castle.

Tarland Church (Scottish Gaelic: Cill Mo Luaig) commemorates Mo Luag, a saint more often associated with the west coast.

According to legend, a wizard once lived in the area. It was said that he once came to Tarland Fair and cut open a cheese, which produced a swarm of bees.In 2015 a new bike park was built in Drummy Woods of Tarland, bringing visitors to the local community. The bike park cost around £200,000 to build and features three different level of difficulty so it can suit cyclist of all abilities.

The Blades (aerobatic team)

The Blades are a British civilian aerobatic team based at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. They have been described as "the world's only aerobatic airline" and are the only full-time civilian aerobatic team in the United Kingdom. The Blades are a subsidiary of 2Excel Aviation.The team was founded in 2005 by Andy Offer, a former leader of the Red Arrows, and Chris Norton, a Royal Air Force wing commander. There are eight pilots including five full-time display performers. All of the pilots are former members of the Royal Air Force and the aerobatic team all flew with the Red Arrows.The team fly four Extra 300LPs and an Extra 330SC, the latter being used for solo sections of the performances. These two-seated propeller aircraft are used for four plane displays as well as corporate flying events during which passengers can be carried on board. The aircraft were originally painted orange and black but later changed to light blue and black. By 2013 they had reverted to the orange and black colour scheme.

The Blades made their debut performance in 2006 at a party held by David Beckham prior to the World Cup. Since then they have performed as part of the 80th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, and at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. They hold the world record for formation looping having completed 26 consecutive loops, with blind bank manager Mike Newman taking control for the beginning of the stunt before co-pilot Myles Garland resumed control for the other loops.Alongside their aerobatic displays and commercial work, The Blades also help the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity that supports RAF service personnel.The Blades have been featured in the Yorkshire Tea adverts since 2013.

The Royal Bank of Scotland £100 note

The Royal Bank of Scotland £100 note is a banknote of the pound sterling. It is the largest denomination of banknote issued by The Royal Bank of Scotland. The current cotton note, first issued in 1987 bears an image of Lord Ilay, one of the founders of the bank, on the obverse and a vignette of Balmoral Castle on the reverse.

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