Queen Victoria and Balmoral Castle

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Not all the castles we see today were built for war and battle.

Balmoral Castle was built in the 1800s as a holiday home for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In this article you can find out:

  • Who Queen Victoria was
  • How Queen Victoria changed Scotland's castles
  • Facts about Balmoral Castle
  • Types of activities Queen Victoria enjoyed at Balmoral Castle

This resource is suitable for Castles topics for P2, P3, P4, P5, P6 and P7 (First and Second Level Curriculum for Excellence).

Find out why Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought a castle in Scotland.

Who was Queen Victoria?

  • Victoria was born on 24 May 1819.
  • Her name was actually Alexandrina Victoria
  • She became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837 - she was only 18!
  • She married her cousin Prince Albert in 1840
  • Together they had nine children
  • She was given the extra title of Empress of India in 1877
  • Victoria died in 1901 after being Queen for nearly 64 years

Balmoral Castle

Where is Balmoral Castle?

  • Balmoral Castle is in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire.
  • Victoria and Albert chose Deeside because they were told the weather was better there than in other parts of Scotland.

When was it built?

  • The original Balmoral Castle was built as a hunting lodge around 1390 by King Robert II of Scotland.
  • Victoria and Albert decided this castle was too small for them.
  • The new house, as we know it today, was built between 1853 and 1855.

The old Balmoral Castle

This sketch shows what Balmoral Castle looked like before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert created their fairy-tale castle.

What did Queen Victoria do at Balmoral Castle?

At Balmoral Castle, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert liked to:

  • take long walks and enjoy the scenery
  • write in her diary
  • paint or sketch
  • take part in hunting

This diary entry written by Queen Victoria in 1850 explains a little about their time at Balmoral – including the bad weather!

Tuesday 24th September 1850, Balmoral Castle

"A showery morning, & we could not walk as far as we wished. Everything is so enjoyable here, — every little walk seems full of interest; the scenery, — the good simple people, — besides the almost constant interest of sport, either in the shape of birds, or deer, or roe."

(Source: www.queenvictoriasjournals.org)

Queen Victoria loved to sketch and paint - like this sketch of Balmoral Castle she did in 1852.

How did Queen Victoria change Scotland's castles?

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were the first people to make Scotland and its castles a popular tourist attraction.

After they bought and stayed at Balmoral, many other people visited Scotland and they wanted to have their holidays here.

Today, tourists from all over the world visit Scotland's castles. Some castles have even become hotels so people can have their holidays in a Scottish castle just like Queen Victoria.

Find out more about how castles are used today here.

Test your knowledge

Write a diary entry about a visit to a castle or palace

Queen Victoria kept a diary about her life and wrote about her many visits to Balmoral Castle.

Why don't you try writing your own diary entry? Think about what you would do if you had a holiday in a castle or palace.