The Queen Mother's Summer Residence Opens To The Public

By David Prudames | 16 August 2002
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the Castle of Mey in the Scottish Highlands

Left: the Castle of Mey in the Scottish Highlands.

The Castle of Mey, a former residence of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, has officially opened its doors to the public for the period August 14 to October 6.

An impressive 1050 people travelled to the far northwestern corner of the Scottish Highlands to visit the Castle on its first day.

"The sort of people going there crossed all ranges," said Sandy Sutherland, Consultant to the Castle of Mey Trust.

the Queen Mother spent three weeks at the Castle each August

Right: the Queen Mother spent three weeks at the Castle each August.

"Foreign visitors, Americans and locals were all very positive," he added. "People felt it went very well, although staff were slightly nervous, it is after all a very small castle, a cosy homely place."

However, as Sandy explained, it was its homeliness that most endeared the Castle to the visitors: "It is not a splendid royal residence like Hampton Court or Holyrood, but a real home."

The opening adds to a growing number of tourist attractions in the area, what with John O'Groats, Caithness Glass, Dunrobin Castle and Cawdor Castle, used by William Shakespeare in a certain Scottish play.

the seat of the Earl of Caithness for over 100 years, the castle is set in 1800 acres of land

Left: the seat of the Earl of Caithness for over 100 years, the castle is set in 1800 acres of land.

This is, of course, good news for the local tourist industry; a point not lost on the Royal Family, as Sandy said: "The Queen was keen that local communities should benefit from the castle being open."

The Queen Mother purchased the Castle and its estate after seeing it in 1952 while staying with friends, Commander and Lady Doris Vyner at the House of the Northern Gate on nearby Dunnet Head.

After fully renovating and changing the name from Barrogill Castle back to its original, Her Royal Highness, who passed away earlier this year, spent the last three weeks of August and ten days in October at the Castle each year.

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