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Evening Standard
Lowenna Waters

Where is Balmoral, is it open to the public, and can you visit?

The Queen will receive Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle

(Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive)

This year, the Queen will remain in Scotland at Balmoral to appoint new Prime Minister Liz Truss for the first time in her reign.

The 96-year-old monarch traditionally holds audiences with outgoing and incoming prime ministers at Buckingham Palace, in London.

However, as she’s facing mobility issues, Liz Truss will travel to Balmoral Castle, a 1,000-mile trip, on Tuesday, September 6.

It’s thought that this is the first time the Queen has conducted such a historic duty away from Buckingham Palace.

But where is Balmoral and can the public visit it? Here’s everything you need to know.

Where is Balmoral?

The Balmoral estate is situated approximately 50 miles west of Aberdeen, within the Cairngorms National Park, on the banks of the River Dee.

The estate has a very appealing location, nestled in the scenery of Royal Deeside, and is located midway between the villages of Braemar and Ballater.

Purchased in 1852 for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert, it has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family ever since.

For Elizabeth II, the estate is associated with happy family holidays, and she traditionally spends around eight to 10 weeks, during August, September, and October, in the Aberdeenshire residence.

In the early 1850s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made Balmoral their Scottish home and, after Albert’s death in 1861, it increasingly became Victoria’s sanctuary during her long years of grieving.

Prime ministers are traditionally invited to stay with the Queen at Balmoral during the summer and, in the past, former prime minister Harold Wilson would join members of the Royal Family for riverside picnics at Balmoral.

Is it open to the public and can you visit?

Balmoral Castle is open to the public from April to July each year, and group visits can sometimes be arranged outside of that period if the Royal Family is not in residence.

Despite being a key attraction in Scotland, little of the estate is open to the public, apart from the ballroom, which has been converted into a constant exhibition displaying pictures of the other rooms in the castle.

Balmoral also has extensive grounds, and the stables have a collection of royal carriages and cars. There is also an excellent tearoom and shop.

Why is the Queen at Balmoral?

This year, the Queen travelled to Scotland on July 21, and she normally spends part of her time at Craigowan Lodge, on the estate, before moving to the main property later during her summer break.

While it’s traditional for her to hold audiences with outgoing and incoming premiers at Buckingham Palace, on Wednesday, August 31, it was announced that she would remain in Scotland for the appointment.

The Queen has been battling episodic mobility issues since last autumn, and, she now regularly uses a walking stick, reports iNews.

She traditionally inspects a guard of honour at the gates of Balmoral, to officially mark taking up residence at her home, but this year she broke with convention and held the event privately within the estate’s grounds for her “comfort”, sources revealed.

She also missed much of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations during the extended Bank Holiday weekend in June.

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