The Queen’s Scottish home has had a near record number of visitors this year. Over 70,000 tourists visited Balmoral this summer – a figure that is five percent more than it was last year.
This increase in tourist numbers means that now, over half of the costs of running the castle are met by tourist revenue alone. It is reported that 40 percent of the visitors were tourists from overseas, proving that the popularity of Her Majesty and the entire British Royal Family extends far beyond the shores of the United Kingdom.
“It has been a very good year. We are about five per cent up on last year and we are very pleased. They are the best figures for five years and a near record,” said the estate’s visitor enterprise manager, Gary Marsden. “We had a good number of overseas visitors too. About 40 per cent of our visitors come from abroad – with Germany the biggest market. As well as numbers being up, so was the visitor spend too.”
The Queen normally spends her annual summer break at Balmoral, leaving the castle open to visitors from the beginning of April to the end of July. However, this year, her schedule clashed with that of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, so, the monarch arrived in Scotland earlier than usual. This meant that some of the tourists were unable to look around Her Majesty’s beautiful summer residence.
But never one to disappoint her loyal subjects, as soon as the Games were over, arrangements were made for the Queen to move into Craigowan Lodge, a seven-bedroom home on the estate, about a mile away from the main castle. This ensured that Balmoral Castle could stay open to the public until the end of July, as normal, and also that the estate was able to generate the expected revenue before it closed to tourists.
Balmoral Castle was bought by Prince Albert in 1852, for his wife, Queen Victoria. As a result, the castle is the Royal Family’s private property, and does not belong to the Crown, meaning that the Queen has to personally meet the £3 million cost of running the estate. While some of that income comes from tourism, the estate also earns money from cottage rentals, wildlife safari trips, corporate hospitality events and weddings.
Craigowan Lodge, too, has been a favourite of the Royal Family in the past. Both Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of York stayed their after their marriage.