King Charles can divide his time between a number of castles, palaces and estates across the country, and many people are wondering which locations will prove to be his favourite now he has become monarch.
One place he likes to visit is the Castle of Mey in Caithness, on the northern tip of Scotland. As the most northerly inhabited castle in the UK, it may be a bit impractical for Charles to spend large periods of time there, but he is said to enjoy visiting at least once a year.
The 16th Century castle was purchased by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1952, after she saw it while staying with Commander and Lady Doris Vyner at the House of Northern Gate on Dunnet Head, nearby to the west. The building, which was then known as Barrogill Castle, was in poor condition, but the Queen Mother quickly set about renovating and restoring it, along with its 30 acres of gardens.
She also reverted the castle to its original name – the Castle of Mey. Her Majesty opened the gardens on three days each year, in aid of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, a tradition which has continued to this day.
In July 1996, the Queen Mother handed the property over to the Queen Elizabeth of Mey Trust, which has run the castle ever since. The trust opens the building for seven days a week between 1 May and 30 September each year.
However, for a ten day period at the end of July and the beginning of August, it is closed for when King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort come to stay. The King, who is president of the trust, opened a new ten-bedroom bed and breakfast there in 2019.
Charles and Camilla returned to Scotland on Tuesday, following the Queen’s funeral, to grieve privately after having spent most of the time since Her Majesty’s death in the public gaze. The monarch is expected to be staying at Birkhall, his home on the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.
The Royal Family is continuing to mourn for another week following the state funeral on Monday and will perform no public duties for seven days.
As well as the castle, gardens and bed and breakfast, the Castle of Mey also has an animal centre for visitors to enjoy. The centre is home to Alice the donkey, as well as an unusual breed of sheep and “eye-catching” bantams, ducks and geese.
There are also pigs, rabbits and the regal Buff Orpingtons, a breed of chicken kept by the Queen Mother. Visitors can try their hand at milking on a wooden cow and can purchase special animal feed to give to the chickens and sheep.
The castle is also a wedding venue, with space for up to 60 guests. The picturesque location is perfect for amazing photos on your special day.