Balmoral Castle | The Royal Family’s Spectacular Summer Home

Best known as the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family, Balmoral Castle is an estate house, a category A listed building, and one of the best-known examples of Scottish baronial architecture.

balmoral castle

Originally built as a hunting lodge by King Robert II of Scotland, the castle has passed through many hands as a result of a tumultuous history until its royal acquisition by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Where Is Balmoral Castle?

Balmoral is situated in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire. It can be found very near the village of Crathie, just opposite the village of the River Dee. It’s also 8 miles west of Ballater and 50 miles west of Aberdeen, serving as a frequent day trip out of the city.

History Of Balmoral Castle

Sir Robert Gordon

The site of Balmoral Castle was once the home of a hunting lodge that belonged to King Robert II of Scotland, who reigned throughout the 14th century. Late, and the estate was built by Sir William Drummond in 1390 and then tenanted by the Gordons, including some Earls of Huntly.

In 1662, the estate was passed to Charles Farquharson, the “Black Colonel” of the family that had posed a threat to the Earls of Mar who held power over much of Scotland.

However, these estates were forfeited after Farquharson took part in both Jacobite Rebellions. It passed to another family of Farquharsons, then to James Duff, the 2nd Earl of Fife, and then Sir Robert Gordon, brother to the Earl of Aberdeen. It was during Gordon’s time here that Balmoral Castle was renovated to include many of the Scottish Baronial stylings that stand to this day.

Balmoral Castle became of interest to the royal family when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed there during their first visit to Scotland. The surrounding landscape caught their eyes but, finding the existing home too small, the architects John and William Smith designed and built offices and cottages, as well as improvements to the gardens and woodlands.

During the ongoing work, including more planned major additions in 1848, Earl Fife passed away and his trustees finally agreed on a sale to Prince Albert. 

After this purchase, the new house at Balmoral was finally completed, and Victoria and Albert were known to use the Palace frequently. It continues to be used by the royal family for autumn visits, with George V and Prince Philip both having continued the tradition of making improvements to the grounds and house.

Balmoral Castle Today

Today, Balmoral Castle and its surrounding grounds are the personal and private property of the Royal Family. Unlike the Royal Palaces, such as Buckingham Palace, Balmoral Castle does not belong to the Crown, meaning that it does not pass to whoever is the current monarch of the UK.

Rather, it is under the direct ownership of Queen Elizabeth II, and its ownership will pass to whomever she names as its inheritor.

Balmoral Castle serves as the Queen’s main residence, and various members of the royal have spent various times of the year there, though she does not live there permanently.

The Queen is known to spend her summers in Balmoral but when it is not under the private use of the Queen and her family, it is often open to the public for visiting.

Visitor info:

balmoral, scottish home to the royal family

The grounds of Balmoral, including gardens, certain exhibitions, and gift shops and coffee shops that have been built on the grounds, are open to the public at certain periods of the year.

Admission is allowed on a pre-booked basis. Due to the popularity of Balmoral as a tourist spot, it tends to be booked up weeks, if not months, in advance.

The details below are general details based on booking for a normal admission ticket at the time of writing. However, there are also other events that have their own times and costs associated with them.

Opening times

Opening times for the current season of admission, lasting from 1st April to 2nd August of 2022, are as follows:

  • Opening: 10:00am
  • Last admission: 5:00pm
  • Closing::4:00pm

Admissions fees

Admission fees depend on the particulars of the visit. Here, we’ll break down the costs of each of the experiences and expeditions currently featured on the website:

  • Morning Coffee and Cake Experience: Adult – £23.50 / Child – £14.50
  • Afternoon Tea Experience: Adult – £37.50 / Child – £17.50
  • Balmoral Expedition: Adult – £15 / Children (5-16) – £6 / Children under 5 go free
  • Balmoral Expedition Tour of Up to Four People: £300

One of the most beloved landmarks of Scotland, Balmoral Castle offers a truly royal day out, so it’s worth making the trip.

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