Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

On Sunday, BBC One’s Countryfile treated us to a very unique episode where the team were granted unprecedented access to the Queen’s Balmoral Estate. The show is one of three royal specials, which also include behind-the-scenes tours of Sandringham and Windsor, to celebrate 65 years since the Queen’s coronation.

The series explores Queen Elizabeth’s love of the outdoors, her countryside background and her in-depth knowledge of rural life.

Countryfile’s Matt Baker introduced us to Balmoral Castle – which sits in the Cairngorns National Park in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland – as the Queen’s summer countryside retreat. It’s a place where she and other family members can escape the rush of London and take a break from day-to-day duties.

But the show uncovered that it was actually at another private Scottish estate where the Queen fell in love with the countryside, the Highlands and fresh air as a child.

Over 50 miles away from Balmoral lies Glamis Castle, in the lowlands of Strathmore, Angus. It was the family home of the Queen Mother and Princess Elizabeth spent many a happy childhood summer with her mother there. They enjoyed riding, walking and gardening.

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Generacionx//Getty Images

On the show, Matt interviewed Tommy Baxter, the General Manager at Glamis, who describes the Queen’s summers on the estate as “living an ordinary life.” Third in line to the throne at the time, Princess Elizabeth didn’t think she would ever become Queen, and so spent more time in the quieter royal residences as opposed to the more official stature of Balmoral. “It was freedom,” Tommy summarised.

So, let’s learn a little bit more about the 14,000 acre estate that is Glamis Castle…

1. It’s got an impressive royal history

According to records, Glamis’ first royal owner was King Malcolm II in 1034. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, HM The Queen Mother was born at Glamis in 1900 and her father became the 14th Earl of the property in 1904. After marrying Prince Albert in 1923, Lady Elizabeth gave birth to Princess Margaret at Glamis in 1930.

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Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle crypt

2. It’s now owned by the Queen Mother’s niece

Glamis Castle is now the family home of the Dowager Countess, Mary of Strathmore who was niece, by marriage, to the Queen Mother.

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Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle dining room

3. It’s open to the public

Glamis Castle was first opened to the public in 1950. Now, the grounds are open every day to vistors in the spring and summer months, from March 30th in 2018. For £12.50 for an individual adult ticket, or £40 for a family pass, you can enjoy tours of the castle, the gardens and the grounds.

Ticket prices vary depending on exhibitions. For example, last year an exhibition of the Coronation Robes worn by HM Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort and Princess Margaret opened to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Coronation of King George VI in 1937.

4. The gardens are a must-see

As well as the mile-long drive leading up to the castle which, in spring, is lined with daffodils, there is a colourful Italian Garden which boasts Rhododendrons and azaleas in the summer; a Walled Garden with Monet-style fountains; and a nature trail through the forest.

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Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle gardens

5. It inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth

It is believed that Macbeth murdered King Malcolm II at Glamis. In addition to the poignant landscape, this dramatic tale of events inspired Shakespeare to write his famous play, Macbeth. Today, you can enjoy a Macbeth Trail of the grounds, which takes you past seven sculptures commissioned to depict scenes from the play. They were all carved from the oak, Douglas fir and Noble fir trees that grow on the estate.

6. You can sleep on the estate

On the Glamis Estate sits Glamis House, a luxury self-catering property available for hire. The six-bedroom house can sleep up to 12 adults and features large gardens, a heated therapy swimming pool and access to the sporting facilities on the estate. You can get more info and check availability here.

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7. It’s on Scottish £10 notes

On the front of the Scottish £10 note is Lord Ilay, the first governor of the bank. Glamis Castle features on the back.

Glamis Castle

By Lala