Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview
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22
BALMORAL

'They live [at Balmoral] not merely like private
gentlefolks, but like very small gentlefolks.'

SOON AFTER THE QUEEN AND PRINCE ALBERT moved into their new house at Osborne they considered the possibility of buying another retreat, farther from London and far more remote. They had first been to Scotland in 1842, sailing from Woolwich to Edinburgh in the Royal George and staying with the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, one of her aides-de-camp and Captain-General of the Royal Company of Archers, at Dalkeith Palace, Midlothian, and then with the Marquess of Breadalbane, a future Lord Chamberlain of the Household, at Taymouth Castle in Perthshire. They were enchanted by all that they saw as they travelled to Loch Leven and Scone, Stirling Castle and Linlithgow, the Prince constantly reminded of the Coburg he loved and missed: even the people of the Highlands seemed to him to look like Germans. 1

' Scotland has made a most favourable impression upon us both,' he told his grandmother. 'The country is full of beauty . . . perfect for sport of all kinds, and the air remarkably pure and light . . . The people are more natural, and are marked by that honesty and sympathy, which always distinguish the inhabitants of mountainous countries, who live far away from towns. There is, moreover, no country where historical traditions are preserved with such fidelity . . . Every spot is connected with some interesting historical fact, and with most of these Sir Walter Scott's accurate descriptions have made us familiar.'2

Two years later, in the autumn of 1844, the Queen and Prince were back in Scotland as guests of Lord Glenlyon, shortly to succeed his uncle

-175-

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