King Charles to open Balmoral to the public for the first time

The interior of the castle has remained out of bounds to members of the public, with tours limited to the ballroom, the grounds and the gardens - Peter Jolly

The King will allow public tours of Balmoral this summer for the first time in the Scottish castle’s history.

Small groups will be shown around the interior by experienced guides, taking in several rooms used by the King and Queen.

A royal source confirmed it was in line with the King’s wish to make royal residences more accessible to the public.

However, the month-long summer tour programme is considered a trial period, during which estate staff will be able to gauge how the historic building copes with increased footfall.

The source noted that Balmoral, unlike others such as Buckingham Palace, is not set up as a large-scale visitor attraction.

Until now, the interior of the vast castle has largely remained out of bounds to members of the public, with tours limited to just the ballroom, the grounds and the gardens.

King Charles Queen Camilla
The King and Queen Camilla, seen here after a church service near Balmoral last Sept, will arrive at the castle for their annual break once the tour season is finished - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The Balmoral estate announced on Tuesday on its website: “For the first time since the castle was completed in 1855, we have been granted permission to take you on a private tour with our experienced guides.

“They will take you on a historical journey through several of the beautiful rooms within Balmoral Castle.

“You will learn about the origins of the Castle and how it has been loved by generations of the Royal family.

“Travel through time from the purchase of the Balmoral by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, through to present day, where you can see how rooms within the Castle are used today by their Majesty’s the King and Queen and other members of the Royal family.

“You will see why Balmoral is such a special place - the much loved and celebrated Highland home of the Royal family.”

Just 40 tickets a day will be sold for the “castle interior tour” and they come with a hefty price tag of £100, or £150 if afternoon tea is included.

The tours will take place from July 1 until Aug 4, before the King and Queen arrive for their annual break.

The estate office has not yet revealed which rooms will be included but sources suggest they will be those used for state functions, such as audiences.

Balmoral was said to be the late Queen's favourite royal residence - Bridgeman Images

The tours are likely to prove popular, not least as Elizabeth II died at the castle on September 8, 2022.

Nestled in Aberdeenshire’s wet and windy grouse moors, Balmoral was long considered the late Queen’s “happy place”.

It is where the monarch chooses to retreat for the long summer break, walking, riding, shooting and picnicking with the family.

The final photograph of the late Queen greeting Liz Truss in the cosy drawing room just days before she died, is how many now remember her.

The King made clear, when he took the reins of the vast royal property portfolio in September 2022, that he wanted to invite more members of the public in, opening the doors of official residences whenever possible.

The following month, St James’s Palace was opened to the public for the first time and the trial proved so successful that it was repeated last year.

Similarly, Buckingham Palace was also made more accessible last winter with a “greatly expanded programme” of festive-themed tours.

Balmoral was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.

Victoria later described it as her “dear paradise in the Highlands” and wrote in her diary: “All seemed to breathe freedom and peace and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils.”

The castle has since remained a firm favourite with her royal successors.

Elizabeth II once said of her summer breaks: “You just hibernate. It is rather nice to hibernate when one leads such a movable life. To be able to sleep in the same bed for six weeks, it is a nice change.”

Prince William has also described the family’s love of Scottish summers, saying: “I’ve been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy. As I grew up, I saw how my grandmother relished every minute she spent here.

“And my father is never happier than when walking among the hills.”