Inside King Charles’ summer holiday home with a devastating history
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One of King Charles’ most cherished residences is Birkhall, part of the Royal Family’s Balmoral estate, which he inherited when his grandmother the Queen Mother died in 2002. Birkhall is located within the Balmoral estate in Scotland.
The property is so close to his heart that he chose it for his and Queen Camilla’s honeymoon destination after their wedding in 2005.
The royal couple also spent New Year’s day there earlier this year in 2023.
During the pandemic, royal fans were treated to never-before-seen sneak peeks inside the home, as the couple conducted video call engagements from there while isolating.
Express.co.uk have taken a closer look inside Birkhall as to why it’s such a special place for King Charles.
The huge house, originally built by the Farquharson clan in 1715, sits on 53,000 acres and has been extended several times by the Royal Family.
It first came into their possession in 1852 when Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, bought it as a gift for his son, the future King Edward VII.
Albert also bought Balmoral Castle for his wife, alongside its 50,000-acre estate, and lent Birkhall to the then Duke of York, who later became King George VI.
Queen Elizabeth II spent many summers there as a child with her parents and, like Charles, also honeymooned on the property with Prince Philip.
For a while, it was used to house staff for the Balmoral Estate and any overflow guests. However, tragedy struck in 1961 when the Queen Mother found her brother David Bowes-Lyon dead in bed at Birkhall from a heart attack.
When her husband died, the Queen Mother began living on the property full time again, and on her death, it passed to her grandson Charles.
King Charles has expressed his love for the cottage, describing it as “such a special place, particularly because it was made by my grandmother. It is a childhood garden, and all I’ve done, really, is enhance it a bit”.
In a BBC interview, he said: “One of the most marvellous things about [Birkhall] is it’s by this river called the Muick, and it has this wonderful sound of rushing water. When you are in the house it’s very calming and peaceful I think… it has a very special atmosphere. The house is rather wonderful.”
Birkhall’s sprawling gardens are spectacular, with vast lawns, vibrant flower beds and a bench from which the King and Queen can enjoy the breathtaking views.
The King is known for his passion for nature and the environment, and in 2020 he filmed a video from the Birkhall garden urging us not to take for granted how “precious” and valuable food is.
After a flood almost ruined much of the gardens in 2016, the King told a local butcher he was “devastated”. Charles and Camilla’s Christmas card photo in 2020 saw them posing outside Birkhall’s grand entrance.
It features a large porch with wood panelling, and a chair on either side of its duck egg-coloured door. It’s not known how many bedrooms the property has, but the King has kept many of his grandmother’s touches including her collection of framed Vanity Fair prints in the stairway.
When the King opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital via Zoom in April 2020, it was from the house’s cosy Drawing Room. There are trinkets everywhere, with a vase of lilies giving it a splash of colour, while photographs of his children and grandchildren adorn his dresser.
There’s a picture of the King with sons William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan from Prince Louis’ christening in 2018, and an adorable portrait of his mother as a 15-month-old baby, taken in 1927.
Camilla also has a private office at Birkhall, where she displays her own collection of family pictures, along with a busy bookshelf and desk. She also conducted a call on behalf of the charity Silver Line from one of Birkhall’s sitting rooms in 2020.
Queen Camilla was seen on a comfy-looking armchair with one of the couple’s beloved Jack Russell Terrier rescue dogs on her lap. In the background a tapestry appears to hang on the wall, in keeping with its grand, traditional theme, along with a painting of Charles perched on an easel, piles of newspapers and books, and more family snaps.
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