What ties King Charles III to Scotland? 7 of the monarch's links to Scotland including his children's book
Since childhood, there have been many ties between King Charles III and Scotland.
The King has regularly spent time in Scotland throughout the years. As a young boy he would visit the Queen Mother in Caithness, while each summer Charles and his family would travel to Balmoral in Royal Deeside - a tradition which he continued with his sons.
Here are 7 of King Charles’s connections with Scotland.
Following the death of the Queen, King Charles took over the royal family home of Balmoral in Aberdeenshire.
Over the years, Balmoral has played host to a number of significant events in the history of King Charles and the wider royal family.
The earliest hints of romance between Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales blossomed on the grounds of Balmoral, with the couple’s honeymoon also taking place there. The Aberdeenshire grounds were also where King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla celebrated their honeymoon.
However, it is also a site of sadness for the family. It was during a holiday to Scotland in 1997 when King Charles had to break the news of Diana’s death to their sons, while in September last year the Queen died at Balmoral with her family rushing from across the country to visit her in her final hours.
The King’s preferred residence on the estate is Birkhall, and he is said to have a fondness for the red squirrels which make a home there.
Rothesay Rooms, Royal Deeside
Balmoral is nestled in the heart of Royal Deeside, neighbouring a number villages including Braemar, which has recorded some of the coldest temperatures UK, and Ballater.
Following Storm Frank in 2015, Ballater was badly affected by flooding. During this time, King Charles – or the Duke of Rothesay, as his Scottish title was then – was staying at Birkhall.
He intervened to support his neighbours with flooding, helping the community with charitable donations and supplies. He is even rumoured to have helped save Abergeldie Castle, which was almost destroyed. In 2019 the King also intervened to save the historic Cambus O’ May bridge.
His efforts to help the town following Storm Frank saw King Charles and the Prince’s Foundation open the Rothesay Rooms in 2016, as a pop-up eating destination to help rebuild Ballater.
The popular 40-seat restaurant has grown leaps and bounds, and after six years under the Prince’s Foundation, in January 2023 the restaurant was taken over by Baxter Story.
King Charles’s school in Scotland
King Charles was shaped into the man he is today by a school in Scotland. The young Prince of Wales was educated at Gordonstoun School, near Elgin in Moray, making the King the first British monarch to attend a public secondary school.
He followed in the footsteps of his father, the late Duke of Edinburgh, when he attended. Gordonstoun’s alumni include Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall, David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones and even the video game character Lara Croft.
The King’s time there is said to have been challenging, but he has praised the school for the values which were instilled in him.
The Castle of Mey
King Charles III has strong a strong connection with the Castle of Mey in Caithness.
In 1952, the Queen Mother was visiting Dunnet Head when she happened across Barrogill Castle. It was in poor condition, but she purchased the castle and restored the estate and its Castle of Mey name. The Queen Mother would spend weeks visiting the north estate each year, and would often be accompanied by royal family members such as the King.
In 1996, the Castle of Mey Trust was established, which looks to preserve the castle’s history while also supporting the Caithness community. Before the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, she requested King Charles continue the work she had started. Following this, the King continues to visit at least once a year – while The Prince’s Foundation is the current trustee of the estate.
The Old Man of Lochnagar
In 1980, King Charles shared his love of Scotland not just with his family, but with the world.
He published The Old Man of Lochnagar – a children’s picture book originally created by the Prince to entertain his younger brothers. The tale was even turned into a short film by the BBC which was narrated by the King and starred Robbie Coltrane.
Lochnagar, one of Scotland’s Munros (near Balmoral) and a large part of the King’s book, has inspired many creatives to pick up a pen including Lord Byron.
And, similarly to the poet, by writing The Old Man of Lochnagar, King Charles forever tied himself to Scotland.
The Prince’s Foundation
While not exclusively Scottish, the King’s charitable trust, The Prince’s Foundation, is based in Scotland. From Dumfries House in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, the charity funds and supports a number of initiatives.
In Scotland alone, the Foundation is responsible for the Castle of Mey, Rothesay Rooms and more.
In 2016, New Cumnock’s town hall was restored thanks to King Charles after concerned locals brought the building to his attention. For years it had lay derelict, with plans for it to be torn down to build a car park looming.
However, the King intervened and spearheaded its restoration.
The creation of a community hub is just one of the Foundation’s Scottish projects, with others such as the construction of Braemar’s Visitor Centre also supported by King Charles.
King Charles’s Scottish patronages
Following King Charles’s ascension to the throne, his charity patronages are under review. However, he has been patron of Scottish organisations including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, Glasgow School of Art and the Gordon Highlanders Museum.
And though his partnerships are under review, his fondness for nature, arts and culture doesn’t stop with patronages. Prints of his watercolour paintings – including of Balmoral – have sold for more than £5,000 since he ascended to King.
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