The Unusual Cairns At Balmoral All Have Royal Significance

Among the many properties owned by the United Kingdom's royal family (or perhaps it's more accurate to say that they're owned by the British government on behalf of the royal family), it seems that Queen Elizabeth II's favorite was Balmoral Castle. As Town & Country Magazine notes, the family would go there for weeks every summer and live as regular people -– to the degree that it was and is possible. "Walks, picnics, dogs — a lot of dogs, there's always dogs — and people coming in and out all the time. It's a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa, for us to come and see them up there, where you just have room to breathe and run," said King Charles' niece, Princess Eugenie, of her memories of when her grandparents still lived.

When not occupied by the royal family, Balmoral Castle is a tourist attraction, of a sort, and is open to the public for tours each summer, according to Secret Scotland, although it bears noting that, due to the country being in mourning since the queen's death, the castle is closed until further notice, per the castle's website.

When it reopens, visitors will be able to do what is known as the Cairn Walk, which is to say, a self-guided tour of the cairns (stone monuments) that adorn the grounds. According to Visit Aberdeen, the cairns are intended to commemorate significant events in the royal family's history.

Queen Victoria Commissioned Most Of The Cairns

If these impossibly-specific directions, via Walking Highlands, are any indication, seeing the Balmoral Cairns is going to take some effort ("Turn right at a junction to cross a small road bridge. Do not continue ahead into the village, instead turn left immediately after the bridge to follow a private road heading uphill," read the directions). Nevertheless, once you arrive, you'll be treated to a number of monuments depicting significant events in the British monarchy. And by that, we mean "the British monarchy during the Victorian Era."

The biggest and most impressive of the monuments that also have a great view of the Scottish Highlands in the background, to boot, is the Prince Albert Cairn (above). "To the beloved memory of Albert the great and good Prince Consort. Erected by his broken hearted widow Victoria R. 21st August 1862," reads its inscription.

Other cairns commemorate events in the lives of other of Queen Victoria's family members, including one that commemorates the marriage of Prince Leopold, for example, while another references Prince Arthur's marriage. A more recent cairn dates to 2012, according to The Royal Chef, which commemorates the queen's Diamond Jubilee of that year.