Prince Charles is ‘devastated’ to have lost his grandmother’s gardens at Birkhall (her former and his current summer residence) due to the flooding of the River Muick.
Last week, The Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall spent time in flood-affected Ballater, near Balmoral, in an unannounced and impromptu visit. It was here he told a butcher from the town that he was ‘devastated’ at losing the gardens, which he has spent the 14 years since his grandmother’s death restoring.
John Sinclair, to whom the Prince spoke, also revealed that Charles was unhappy but more concerned by other things: his gardens are the ‘least of his worries’ and he was ‘more concerned about the people’ whose homes and businesses were under water in the Aberdeenshire town.
Prince Charles is ‘devastated’ by the loss of Birkhall’s riverside gardens
A large area of the garden is still underwater after more heavy rain, and a section of road near Birkhall’s entrance has crumbled.
Charles and Camilla spent New Year at their Scottish retreat, and it was here they announced their engagement to the press in early 2005, before honeymooning here later that year. He has previously referred to the gardens as “such a special place, particularly because it was made by my grandmother.”
TRH have visited families in flood-hit Ballater who are now relying on this soup kitchen since floods hit. pic.twitter.com/EfVZyIoLPK
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) December 31, 2015
Birkhall’s gardens were a haven for The Queen Mother
Taken from our article on Balmoral and Birkhall, the gardens are sloping, leading to a terrace fill of fruit trees and red roses. Another slope leads down to the main garden, where the letters ‘ER’ and ‘CP’ are clipped into the shrubs, for Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Regina) and Charles himself, Charles Princeps, the Latin for Prince Charles, honouring its two residents.
The house sits on high ground and will not be affected by a swelling river, but much of the manicured gardens, which grow fruit and vegetables, are in ruin or still submerged. The gardens were started by The Duke and Duchess of York, future George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in the 1930s.
Birkhall is the private residence in Scotland of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Albert purchased the property alongside Balmoral in 1849. Prince Charles inherited Birkhall from The Queen Mother upon her death in 2002 (pic: Clive Nichols) pic.twitter.com/EqeUcJmFfL
— The Crown Chronicles (@crownchronicles) July 24, 2018
The Queen Mother spent many happy hours in the garden, finding comfort there after her mother, The Countess of Strathmore, died in 1938, and enjoying the seclusion of the Highlands away from London.
You can see more images of the gardens here.
Flood aid effort from Prince Charles
However, Prince Charles has been concentrating on helping those affected, starting a fund for those affected in Scotland. He did the same for those in England and Wales in December.
He has even been calling in favours – including one to Jim Walker, owner of Walkers Shortbread, to give the rescue workers and families hit by the flooding a sweet treat in their hour of need.