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Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Location: Crathie, AB35 5TB (map and directions)

Balmoral Castle lies within the boundaries of the Cairngorms National Park, Britain’s largest national park. Set along the south bank of the River Dee, Balmoral Castle is equidistant (9 miles) from Ballater and Braemar, and 50 miles west of Aberdeen. The Royal Family enjoys Balmoral as a summer residence, and the castle is the private property of the Queen, not a part of the government-owned royal estate. While much of the castle is open to the public, several rooms are the Queen’s private rooms.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire copyright Colin Smith
Balmoral Castle © Colin Smith

History of Balmoral Castle

First built as a much more modern residence by Sir William Drummond in 1390, the castle then was sold to the 3rd Earl of Huntly, Alexander Gordon, in the 15th century. Balmoral remained in the family until purchased by the Farquharsons of Inverary. Finally, in 1798 the estate was sold to the 2nd Earl of Fife, its last owner before becoming a royal residence in 1848. In this year the house was leased to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and they then purchased Balmoral outright in 1852.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire copyright Stuart Yeates
Balmoral Castle © Stuart Yeates

With the help of architect William Smith, Prince Albert partially designed and expanded the castle, and the original structure on site was torn down. The entire project was completed in 1856. Queen Victoria laid the first foundation stone on 28 September 1853, which can be seen at the foot of the wall near the west side of the entrance.

Map and directions

Balmoral Castle is open daily from April to early August, from 10am – 5pm.

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Other castles in Aberdeenshire

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