I run Balmoral's hardware store – the Royal who pops in and always says the same thing | The Sun

IT was the Queen's favourite place in the world and attracts tourists from across the globe keen to see how the Royal Family spends their summer holidays.

And although the locals don't even get tickets free tickets to see the castle, it's a regular occurrence in Balmoral, Scotland to see the royals, who enjoy summer breaks at the 50,000 acre estate, wandering down the village street, popping in and out of shops.

Even King Charles has been spotted visiting local shops including the village's hardware store. 

But residents say despite what you might think, the royals have no airs or graces and are just “normal neighbours”.


Dad-of-three Alistair Cassie, 77, who owns the hardware shop in the village of Ballater close to Balmoral, says the King has visited his store a number of times – and is always super friendly.

"The King has popped his head into my shop a few times," he told The Sun.

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"He just wanders around the village sometimes. 

"He didn't buy anything – he was just passing the time of day really – he came in and said 'Hello how are you doing?’

"We just spoke about the weather or something, he's just like a normal person.

"We all see the Royal Family as normal neighbours really, who just happen to be royal.”

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Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, which is privately owned by the Royal Family.

It was known as the Queen's favourite home where in summer, members of the Royal Family would meet and enjoy fishing, hunting, picnicking and barbecuing.

The Queen was often seen hiking, riding horses or her beloved Range Rover over the estate's rugged terrain.

Alistair, who has owned his store for over 40 years, says it's easy to see why the area was such a favourite for Her Majesty – and claims there are no downsides to living near the castle. 

"I live in the village and I love it here because it's unique in many ways," he said.

"Balmoral was the favourite place of both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. It's a very nice place. 

"There are no downsides I can think of – I think it is an asset for the area to have something a wee bit different. 

"All the royals have come through the village. The Queen didn't very often towards the end of her reign but way back in the early days she would pass through a lot.

"When the royal yacht would park up they'd all fly into Aberdeen and then nip through.”


And while locals don't get discounted entry to the castle or grounds, they do enjoy a major perk to living close to the royal estate.

Residents are allowed access to the estate's private nine-hole golf course.

"We don't get any discount to visit the castle or anything like that but there is a wee golf course there and local people can join it.

"It's a nine hole golf course and it seems to be popular because it's on the estate, but local residents get the use of it.

"I used to be a member but I've given up golf these days.”


Alistair says that he has welcomed many royals and members of the household to his hardware store over the years, and even held a Royal Warrant, granted as a mark of recognition to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services to the Royal Family.

But he admits things have changed in recent years and he doesn’t do as much business with the royals anymore.

He said: "I've had a few royals in the shop over the years, Princess Anne came in and others at different times, they are normal people. I have a little bit of fun with them. 

"The household staff come in to get wee bits and pieces but not very much these days, it's all different to what it used to be.

“It's just like everything else these days, they probably get their stuff online!

"Everyone here loves having the royals so close. 

"A few shops still have a Royal Warrant. 

“I had one for a while, one from the Queen and one from the Queen Mother because I did a little business with them.

"But it's all going to be changing now, all the Royal Warrants will change because it will be the King's warrant, not the Queen's so I don't know what will happen.

"Everything is changing and those who had a royal warrant from the Queen might not get one from the King under the new regime, it's hard to say.”


Despite its stunning views and peaceful location, Alistair feels that Balmoral does not have the same appeal to the younger royals such as Princes William and Harry as it did the Queen. 

"The younger royals never came in [to the village]," he said.

"To be honest, I don't think the younger royals are too interested in the area, not in the same way anyway. “

The world has become a smaller place so they can jet all over the world to different countries, so I think while they still come to Balmoral, it's not the same meaning as for the Queen.”

The past year has seen even more tourists flock to the area following an eventful year for the royals.

The Queen spent her last few days at the castle before she died peacefully on September 8 last year, and family members and members of the public travelled to the estate to pay their respects to the long serving monarch.

The estate also hosted a special event for King Charles' coronation in May.

"We've had a lot of tourists this year, with the Coronation and everything,” Alistair said. 

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"You can walk around the gardens and they sell bits and pieces there.

"Being so close to Balmoral does bring more tourists but there are two sides to it, as tourists are usually on a limited time and Balmoral is probably more important to them than the village of Ballanter.”

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