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King Charles and Co.'s life at Balmoral before and after the Queen

Discover what it's really like inside the royals' private holiday home

King Charles III
Rachel Avery
Homes Editor
14 April 2023
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The royal family have a whole host of regal properties across the UK, but Scotland seems to hold a special place in their hearts. Former Royal butler Grant Harrold says the late Queen's favourite property, Balmoral is "a jewel in the crown of the British Royal family" and he believes that King Charles will continue the tradition of travelling there each summer. 

Grant recently stayed in Ogilvie Castle, Luxury Cottages in Scotland, with the property reminding him of Balmoral so allow him to reminisce about his magical summers there…

When you spent time at Balmoral, what was it like? 

A big part of what I did as a Butler for the Royal family was to travel to Scotland. I often stayed at Birkhall House, which is the private home of the now King, and on occasions I used to go over to Balmoral Castle - mostly for social things, social gatherings, parties, but sometimes to do errands between the two households. 

What do the royal family get up to when at Balmoral?

 The Queen called Balmoral her highland paradise and it was because it was somewhere where the Royals could be themselves, away from prying eyes, the public and the media. They would do all the country sports, fishing, shooting, walking, horse riding, pony trekking, picnics… it was a real family time.

LOOK: 20 incredible photos of the royals enjoying their summer holiday at Balmoral

I used to go horse riding as well and it was one of the first times, I bumped into the Queen on Balmoral Estate. I was on horseback and my pony started acting up, I thought there were rabbits at the hooves of the horse, and it wasn't, it was the corgis!

Do you think the royals will still make good use of Balmoral Castle despite King Charles' current plans not to make it his official Scottish residence?

Balmoral and Sandringham are privately owned by the King, as they were by the late Queen. They're two properties that do not come under the portfolio of Crown Estates or public buildings. I believe King Charles will still use it. Birkhall is another family home on the estate that he loves, but I think we’ll see a transition between Birkhall and Balmoral and he'll use Balmoral more and more. 

The time will probably come where he'll have Balmoral as his official residence, I think, but obviously these things take time - much in the same way that one day he’ll eventually take up residence at Buckingham Palace.

NEWS: Disruption to King Charles' home ahead of coronation confirmed

What is it about the Scottish Highlands that you think the Royals enjoy so much?

I think it’s the fact the royals can get away from everything and just have time to be themselves. Even the corgis would travel to Balmoral. The Queen would feed them herself, she was always in charge of that and their training, but of course there would be times when the staff would help or assist with the feeding schedules. When the Queen was there and she was able to, she would always feed them herself. They were very much her dogs.

Do you think it's important for the current royals to keep up these holiday traditions in Scotland with their own children?

There is famous footage where you can see the Queen teaching Eugenie and Beatrice how to horse ride or pony trek and the Queen is very much leading and in charge of this, it’s very sweet. Will these traditions continue with the next generation of children with William and Kate, Beatrice, Eugenie and Zara and Mike Tindall? 

MORE: Did Meghan Markle ever stay with the Queen at Balmoral?

Yes, I think all of them will continue to travel there. They share the same love for Scotland as the Queen, which is why I think Balmoral will always be a jewel in the crown of the British Royal family.

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