Prince Charles was in knight in shining armour mode this week as he rode to the rescue of a historic Scottish mansion that he's never even visited. Dumfries House, with its stunning collection of rococo furniture, was due to be put on the market and its contents auctioned off next month. But the heir to the throne has headed a group to secure it for £45 million in order to preserve it for the nation. It's a move being described as "one of the great heritage saves of modern times".
A range of charities contributed £25 million to the rescue, but the sale was dramatically clinched two weeks ago by a £20 million cheque from the Prince's Charities Foundation. "He's never done something like this before, but he could see what a remarkable place this was and how it could drive the regeneration of a whole area," said a Clarence House spokesperson.
Using his own personal wealth as collateral, Charles has guaranteed the huge sum which was beyond the means of the National Trust for Scotland.
The 18th-century Ayrshire pile will be handed over to a trust which will open it to the public for the first time next summer. Designed by famous architect Robert Adam, the unique property was put up for sale by owner Johnny Dumfries, the Marquess of Bute, who is one of Scotland's richest men.
It has remained remarkably unchanged for over two centuries and includes one of the greatest collections of Thomas Chippendale furniture. In one room, for example, there stands a bed - complete with the carpenter's bill, dated 1759 - which has not been moved since America was a colony. A rosewood and mahogany bookcase by Chippendale is possibly the most precious ever made, with an estimated value of £4 million.