Birkhall, the grand hunting lodge in the grounds of Balmoral where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles will honeymoon, is much more than a holiday home.
The white-washed Highland retreat is where the heir to the British throne found sanctuary with his late grandmother during his unhappy schooldays at Gordonstoun.
The home is, in Charles’ own words, “a unique haven of cosiness and character”, where he can leave behind the bustle of St James’ Palace.
In recent years, the couple have spent time every spring at Birkhall, which nestles in an idyllic Scottish glen beside the River Dee.
Alongside his grandmother, Charles first learned to fish by the whiskey-brown waters of the Muick, which flows at the bottom of the lodge’s sloping garden.
During the turmoil of his divorce from Diana, it was to Birkhall that Charles sought refuge from the scrutiny of the world’s media.
In the aftermath of the Queen Mother’s funeral, Camilla joined him at the bolt hole and soothed his grief.
The mansion dates back to 1715, and was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for their son in 1849. He never liked it, and stayed there only once.
The Queen Mother first went there shortly after her marriage to the Duke of York in 1923, when King George V suggested they use it as their Scottish home.
By tradition, it is now given to the heir to the throne on marriage. King George VI gave it to Princess Elizabeth – and it was there that she and the Duke of Edinburgh spent part of their honeymoon.
James Johnson, the manager of the nearby Auld Kirk Hotel in Ballater, said Charles and Camilla would be very welcome in the area during their honeymoon.
He said: “Royal Deeside always welcomes them with open arms. They love the privacy and highland hospitality. We look forward to seeing them after the wedding.”