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The King to use Balmoral after mother’s death

© Tim Rooke/ShutterstockCharles with sons Harry and William at Balmoral in 1997
Charles with sons Harry and William at Balmoral in 1997

Queen Elizabeth II’s death will lead to a shake-up in who occupies her private houses in Scotland, according to experts.

The new Prince and Princess of Wales are likely to take over Birkhall on the Balmoral estate, according to royal commentators Ingrid Seward and Robert Hardman.

Hardman, author of Our Queen, said for King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla it would be a difficult move. “It means a lot to them but Charles is a great believer in royal tradition – like his mother and grandmother – and knows the monarch must be in the castle, even though his heart will be in Birkhall,” he said. “I think William and his young family will take over Birkhall.”

Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine and author of several books on the royal family, said: “The King has to be in the castle. It is very likely William and Kate will take over Birkhall and it gives William, as heir to the throne, an increased presence in Scotland. He and Kate will have to spend more time in Scotland from now on given they are now the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.”

Both experts dismissed previous speculation that King Charles would give Balmoral to the people of Scotland.

The offer was allegedly made to then-first minister Alex Salmond during a private dinner at Birkhall in 2008. Under the deal, Prince Charles would have kept Birkhall as his official home north of the border.

But Seward said: “It is not going to happen. The castle is the centre of the estate and it will stay in royal ownership. But giving up Birkhall to William and his family is likely and it will be a wrench – but a necessary one – for Charles and Camilla.”

Charles and Camilla have celebrated their wedding anniversary at Birkhall every year since tying the knot in 2005.

“It is the most beautiful of all their residences and the most special to them. It was also the Queen Mother’s favourite home – and that also matters to Charles,” said Seward. “Camilla loves Birkhall as much as Charles – they really are a pair of old romantics. It is where they spent their honeymoon. There is no place more special to them.”

However, Balmoral, which can be visited from April to July, could be opened to the public for longer periods. Only around half of its annual £3 million running costs comes from tourist-related income. Penny Junor, the royal biographer, said: “If he allowed more visitors into Balmoral, that would be a good earner.”