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Balmoral Castle

From 1848 onwards the royal family stayed at Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands for around six weeks every autumn. They rented the existing castle before purchasing it outright in 1852, but the queen and prince soon decided to build a new, bigger residence. ‘Albert the Creator’ (as Victoria called him) played a leading role in the design of this family home.  


Victoria and Albert shared an idealistic view of Scotland, conditioned by the sentimentalising paintings of Edwin Landseer and novels of Sir Walter Scott, and embraced many Scottish traditions. They considered the Highlands and its people to be untouched by modernity, and envied what they perceived to be a better, simpler way of life, close to nature.


The royal couple admired the rugged scenery around Balmoral – ‘beautiful, so wild & grand’, Victoria enthused – and spent much time outdoors, sketching, walking, picnicking and shooting. They invited artists to Balmoral to record scenes from their life there as well as commissioning works from local painters, and included many Highland subjects in their watercolour albums.

James Roberts (c. 1800-67)

The Drawing Room, Balmoral

James William Giles (1801-70)


Egron Sellif Lundgren (1815-75)

The Gillies' Ball

Richard Principal Leitch (1826-82)

Crossing the Poll Tarff, 9 October 1861