Craigowan Lodge: The Queen’s stunning royal cottage at Balmoral

Craigowan Lodge is located on the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire and she’s predicted to stay there again this summer…

Craigowan Lodge On Balmoral Estate, Scotland
(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Craigowan Lodge might not be as well-known as Balmoral Castle, but this stunning property makes for the perfect “ordinary” bolt hole for the Queen. 


The Queen might have spent much of the past few years at her Berkshire home, Windsor Castle, but that’s far from the only royal residence she spends time in throughout the year. And as we might have come to expect from the extended Royal Family, there’s often a certain amount of tradition surrounding where the monarch goes and when. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch typically spends Christmas at her Norfolk residence, Sandringham House, whilst Balmoral Castle is her go-to vacation destination in the summer. 

Craigowan Lodge is another royal home she’s spent time in over the warmer months and it’s where some have predicted the Queen is now ahead at the start of her Balmoral break. Here we reveal what you need to know about Craigowan Lodge including where it is, who else has stayed and when the Queen usually spends time there…

Queen Elizabeth II during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Queen Elizabeth II during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

(Image credit: Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Where is Craigowan Lodge? 

Just like the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla’s country home, Birkhall, and of course, the Queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle, Craigowan Lodge is in Scotland. The stunning stone property is located in the countryside of Aberdeenshire on Her Majesty’s Balmoral Estate, surrounded on several sides by woodland, if the rare photos are anything to go by. 

That means it’s not only close to the main castle itself, but to Birkhall and Tam-Na-Ghar cottage which is understood to be used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they are in Scotland.   

Craigowan Lodge in Scotland

Craigowan Lodge in Scotland

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

How far is Craigowan Lodge from Balmoral Castle? 

Whilst Balmoral Castle is perhaps one of the most recognizable and iconic of the Queen’s royal residences, the lesser-known Craigowan Lodge is very nearby indeed. According to reports, the cottage is only around a mile away from the main castle, nestled in the magnificent surrounding Scottish countryside. Both Craigowan Lodge and Balmoral are in Aberdeenshire, with the village of Crathie just a few miles away. The nearest airport is Aberdeen and the Balmoral estate is located between Ballater and Braemar. 

Craigowan Lodge history 

Despite often being described as a cottage, Craigowan Lodge is believed to have seven bedrooms and ample space for the Queen or any esteemed guests when they visit. The highland home has long had a special connection to the extended Royal Family, as it was here that a sweet moment in Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationship is understood to have taken place. The future Prince and Princess of Wales’ first official photocall since they announced their engagement was held at Craigowan Lodge. 

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer hold a photocall at Craigowan Lodge in Balmoral

Prince Charles and the future Princess Diana hold a photocall at Craigowan Lodge in Balmoral

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

During their marriage, it’s said that Prince Charles and Princess Diana often stayed at Craigowan Lodge with Prince William and Prince Harry when they were visiting Balmoral in the summer. Though the Queen has also apparently been a consistent, if infrequent, visitor to the Balmoral property over the years, often with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. 

The Queen’s grandchild, Princess Eugenie, once opened up on the 2016 ITV documentary Our Queen at Ninety about how much the Scottish highlands mean to her remarkable grandmother. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in a field with some highland cattle at Balmoral, Scotland

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in a field with some highland cattle at Balmoral, Scotland

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

"It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands,” she explained at the time. 

It’s understood that when the Queen is at Balmoral she can relax and enjoy private time with her nearest and dearest without public scrutiny. Craigowan Lodge provides the same level of picturesque privacy and according to royal expert Wesley Kerr, time there allowed Her Majesty and Prince Philip to be an “ordinary” couple.  

Discussing Craigowan Lodge on the Channel 5 documentary, Secrets of the Royal Palaces, Wesley previously expressed his belief that the Queen and Prince Philip enjoyed life without the “grandeur” they experience at other properties like Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by a waterfall in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, Scotland

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by a waterfall in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, Scotland

(Image credit: Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

“I don’t imagine that she’s doing the cooking or anything, but she and the Duke are able to be there as an ordinary married couple without the grandeur,” the expert claimed. 

He went on to add, "I think the Queen sees the grandeur in these amazing houses as, sort of, part of the job. But the Queen, like anybody else, can only be in one room at a time. So one room in a small house is probably a rather nice change.”

Although the seven-bedroom Craigowan Lodge might not sound like much of a “small house”, compared to the 52 Balmoral Castle is believed to have, this beautiful property is very much a scaled-back residence. Following the death of Prince Philip in April 2021, it was suggested that Her Majesty spent time there mourning him. 

When does the Queen stay at Craigowan Lodge? 

It’s not known exactly when the Queen stays at Craigowan Lodge, although over the years reports have suggested that the stone cottage makes the perfect retreat for the monarch ahead of the start of her summer break. Each year Her Majesty traditionally spends August-October at her privately-owned Balmoral Castle and in previous years has often made the trip at the end of July. 

This is also the case this year, with the Queen beginning her Balmoral holiday on Thursday, July 21st, when she was observed leaving Windsor Castle after the UK’s hottest day so far earlier in the week. However, despite the Queen having travelled to Scotland she won’t be able to settle in at Balmoral Castle quite yet.

Queen Elizabeth II during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Queen Elizabeth II during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland 

(Image credit: Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The historic home is open to the public until the end of July and it’s understood that the Queen has previously stayed at Craigowan Lodge until Balmoral Castle closes to tourists, at which point her household is able to move there. It’s predicted that she is likely doing the same this year during the start of her Scottish vacation. 

Sadly for anyone hoping for a glimpse inside Craigowan Lodge, as a private royal home this isn’t open to the public like many of her other palaces and castles. 

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.