Balmoral community welcomes prospect of Queen spending more time there

Reports claim Craigowan Lodge is being fitted out with a lift and additional security.

Balmoral community welcomes prospect of Queen spending more time there PA Media

A Scottish community has welcomed suggestions the Queen may spend more time there amid reports that upgrades are being made to a cottage on her Balmoral Estate.

The Queen, 95, and her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh used to stay for a week at the start of their summer break at the private Craigowan Lodge, a seven-bedroom guesthouse about a mile from Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.

The cottage has now been fitted with a £20,000 lift, a new security gate and a state-of-the-art intercom system, while more CCTV cameras are being installed, The Sun reports.

James Anderson, chairman of Ballater and Crathie Community Council, said local people will be pleased if the Queen spends more time in the area.

He said: “Folk will be happy about that. We don’t see much of her when she is on the estate but it generates a lot of income for the village and for the area when she’s here because of the amount of staff and the business it brings, it is a good thing.

“It is a very relaxing area and she likes it up here.”

Local councillor Geva Blackett said she has not heard anything about any alterations at Craigowan Lodge, but she added people will be delighted if the Queen visits more often.

“We always welcome the Queen here, she is part of the community,” she said. “We would love her to be here more if that’s what she wants to do.

“You see her around, when there wasn’t Covid you would see her in church. She is very much part of the community and we love her. She is a very familiar figure and much loved.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said it will not be commenting on the matter.

Earlier this week, the Queen was pictured standing without her walking stick as she carried out face-to-face engagements.

She welcomed Guyanese poet Grace Nichols to Windsor Castle to present her with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

The Queen, who reached her Platinum Jubilee last month, has faced a bout of Covid in recent weeks and also spent more than three months from October under doctors’ orders to only conduct light duties.

In recent months she has been seen using a walking stick, and commenting about her mobility issues, she told two senior military officers during a Windsor Castle reception: “Well, as you can see, I can’t move.”

With the Queen due to celebrate her 96th birthday in April, maintaining her comfort is a consideration and it is understood she has been pacing herself, although she was keen to do what work she could while she had Covid.

Balmoral, one of the royals’ favourite places, holds many memories for the Queen and did so for Philip too.

It is her private home, handed down through generations of royals after being bought for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.

Philip loved the outdoor life that was synonymous with their annual break, which stretched from the end of July into October.

Princess Eugenie, the Queen’s granddaughter, once described Balmoral as the most beautiful place on earth.

“Walks, picnics, dogs – a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs – and people coming in and out all the time,” Eugenie has previously said.

“It’s a lovely base for granny and grandpa, for us to come and see them up there; where you just have room to breathe and run.”

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