Situated within Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire in Scotland, Balmoral Castle is a private residence of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It sits on 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) and contains a wide variety of landscapes, from the Dee River to open mountains. There are seven Munros (hills in Scotland over 3,000 ft. or 914.4m) within the Estate, the highest being Lochnager at 3,789ft. (1,155m). This Mountain was the setting of a story, The old man of Lochnager, told originally by Prince Charles to his younger brothers Andrew and Edward. The story was published in 1980 with Royalties accruing to the Prince of Wales` charity for helping vulnerable young people – The Prince`s Trust.
The working Estate includes grouse moors, forestry and farmland as well as managed herds of deer, highland cattle and ponies and is accessible to the public for fishing and hiking during certain seasons. Ballochbuie Forest on the Estate is one of the largest remaining areas of Caledonian pine growth in Scotland consisting of approximately 3,000 acres (1,200) hectares managed with minimal or no intervention. The principal mammal on the estate is the red deer with a population of 2,000 to 2,500 heads. Red grouse, black grouse, optarmigan and the capercaille are some of the rare bird species on the Estate that has four sites of special scientific interest. Up to six holiday cottages are available on the estate for visitors to stay in with the Queen.
The Estate is private in the sense that it is not part of the Crown Estate that holds Her Majesty`s Official Residences like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. It was originally purchased by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria in his private capacity in June 1852 and has been handed down to successive generations of the British Monarchy to this day. The private status of the property implied that when Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, it remained in his private ownership and had to be bought from him by his brother and successor to the Crown, George VI. It was bought together with The Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England, another private property of the Queen.
Balmoral is managed for the Queen by trustees under deeds of Nomination and Appointment.