King Charles III makes poignant return to BalmoralOctober 17, 2022
Revealed: King Charles III makes poignant return to Balmoral to thank the soldiers who guarded the Queen at the castle before her death
- Charles was one of two family members to reach Balmoral before Queen died
- Estate was closed on Sunday as Charles thanked soldiers who guarded Queen
- A courtier told the Daily Mail that ‘The King wanted to say thank you in person’
- Charles travelled to Aberdeen today where he met with several refugee families
King Charles, who was one of only two members of the Royal Family to reach Balmoral before his mother died, has made a poignant return to the Scottish retreat.
Balmoral was closed to the public on Sunday so that the King could spend time thanking the soldiers who guarded the late Queen at the castle in Aberdeenshire — and who helped give her a moving send-off.
‘The King wanted to say thank you in person,’ a courtier said, after Charles was driven to Balmoral in his electric Audi straight after divine service at nearby Crathie Kirk yesterday.
‘He is very grateful for the effort everyone put in before and after Her Majesty’s death.’
Unusually, Balmoral’s grounds have been opened to the public for the rest of the year so that tributes can be paid to Queen Elizabeth.
They are normally open only from April to July.
The late Queen traditionally inspected a guard of honour from the Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, outside the castle gates while the public welcomed her for her annual stay.
However, this year the ceremony happened behind closed doors, in order to maximise Queen Elizabeth’s comfort.
‘The King wanted to say thank you in person,’ a courtier said, after Charles was driven to Balmoral in his electric Audi straight after divine service at nearby Crathie Kirk yesterday
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with their children, Prince Andrew (centre), Princess Anne (left) and Charles, Prince of Wales sitting on a picnic rug outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland, 8th September 1960
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on September 13, 2022
In a further indication that the King is preparing to open up Balmoral all year round, the estate has advertised for visitor service assistants to work ‘for the 2022 season’.
It costs around £3 million a year to run Balmoral, and half of this money comes from tourism.
Today the King travelled to the city of Aberdeen where he met with refugee families from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan.
Photographs from the appearance show His Majesty beaming as he spent time with staff and refugees at a reception in the Town and County Hall in the Town House.
The 73-year-old monarch donned traditional Scottish attire for the appearance, opting for a red kilt, paired with a tweed blazer and waistcoat.
Aberdeen’s city council has worked with the UK and Scottish Governments to provide accommodation and critical services such as health and education for more than 1,000 people from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria.
In a reception at the city’s Town House, the King met Inna Skvortsova, a Ukrainian woman who arrived in the city in April.
She now has a full-time role at the council assisting with the resettlement programme.
King Charles III met refugees who have come from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan and who have made a new home in Aberdeen
The King met Burhan Vesal, his wife Narcis and son, Sapehr, who fled Afghanistan
Ms Skvortsova said it was ‘such an honour’ to be invited to meet the King.
She said: ‘Six months ago I didn’t expect that I would be here, or with the King, his majesty, and now I am proud to represent my country.
‘I’m so grateful that the United Kingdom helped me and helped my compatriots.’
The monarch also met Burhan Vesal, who worked as an interpreter with the British Army in the south of Afghanistan.
He also met Mr Vesal’s wife, Narcis, who plans to use her medical experience as an Ob-Gyn to work as a doctor in the UK, and their son Sapehr, seven, who is enjoying school in the city.
Of meeting the monarch, Mr Vesal said: ‘It means a lot as a new immigrant. He spoke to us with openness and with laughter and joy.
‘We ran away from conflict, we ran away from violence, in a hard situation, and now besides having the support from the community here, we have the support from the King and the Government.’
He added that the monarch was ‘touched’ when Mr Vesal recounted his family’s life story.
The King also shared advice on being a good grandparent as the Afghan refugee, who asked to be known only as Yar to protect his identity, told Charles his family had expanded to 12 with a recent new addition.
The king was snapped holding a cup of tea as he chatted with refugee families who have settled in Aberdeen
Yar, who is still awaiting a permanent home in Aberdeen, had been employed as an interpreter with the Armed Forces and worked in Camp Bastion as an IT support worker before fleeing to Pakistan where he was evacuated to the UK.
He said: ‘This was my first time to meet the King and this is my whole life. He is a very kind person.
‘I had a good chat with him telling my family story to him and he was really, really good and said that ‘now you’re going to have a safe life here’.’
He said Charles was ‘excited’ to hear that he had just become a grandfather for the first time and wished him luck in dealing with a growing his growing family.
Before his departure, a choir of school children, university students and some of the refugee families sang a song, the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, to the monarch.
During an official visit to Jordan in November 2021, the King visited the Al Nuzha Community Centre which is supported by UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and met refugee families receiving UK assistance through UNHCR.
Aberdeen has resettled about 1,000 Ukrainian refugees, with capacity for more.
Approximately 170 Afghan refugees are currently staying in two hotels in the city and about 30 Syrian families have also been resettled in the city since 2014.
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