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Exclusive Access: Balmoral Castle Opens Royal Family Quarters for Select Tours

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For the first time visitors will be able to see areas of the Scottish castle used by Charles and Camilla – if they have deep pockets.

Parts of Balmoral Castle used by the royal family will open to the public for the first time – for those who have deep pockets.

For £100 for an adult ticket – and an extra £50 for those wishing to partake of afternoon tea – guided summer tours of the castle in Aberdeenshire are being offered, limited to 40 people a day and in groups restricted to 10 people.

It is the first time since the castle’s completion in 1855 that visitors will be shown two dining rooms, the drawing room, the page’s lobby and the red corridor, where King Charles greeted Rishi Sunak.

The tour also includes access to the ballroom with a collection of Charles’s watercolour collection depicting scenery at Balmoral, Highgrove and Sandringham as well as a selection of outfits worn by Charles, Camilla, the late queen and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Previous tours, which will continue, have been of the grounds and gardens with access to the castle itself limited to the ballroom.

The tours, from 1 July until 4 August, before the king and queen arrive for their annual break, are being run for a trial period so estate staff can judge how the fragile building copes with increased footfall.

The £150 a head price tag for tour and high tea makes it the most expensive royal residence for visitors wanting the exclusive experience.

Buckingham Palace, which has long been open to the public during the summer months, charges £95 for an exclusive guided tour away from the crowds, though general summer admission with the masses costs between £32 and £35.

Afternoon tea is not included, but at the nearby Ritz, the “afternoon tea experience” costs from £64.

St James’s Palace, which started guided tours in 2022 limited to 30 people, costs £80 for an adult.

At the cheaper end of royal residence visits, Windsor Castle offers general adult admission at £30 in advance, while Sandringham House in Norfolk costs £24 and the Castle of Mey, the queen’s mother’s former Scottish home, is £14.50.

Experienced guides on the interior tour “will take you on a historical journey through several of the beautiful rooms within Balmoral Castle”.

It adds: “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.”

Rachel Adams

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