MONARCH OF THE GLEN Queen, 95, has a ‘wheelchair-friendly’ lift fitted to favorite Scottish cottage after quitting Buckingham Palace for good
THE Queen plans to spend “much more” time at her favorite Highlands cottage as she marks her 70th year on the throne.
A ring of steel is being put around Craigowan Lodge, on the Balmoral estate.
Royal watchers said it is one of the 95-year-old monarch’s favorite homes.
The cottage has been fitted with a £20,000 lift ahead of her plans to spend more time at the retreat in the Scottish Highlands.
A new security gate, a state-of-the-art intercom system, and a string of CCTV cameras are also due to be installed at Craigowan Lodge.
The “wheelchair-friendly” Lifton Trio lift is the largest in its range — and comes after sources confirmed the monarch has been struggling with mobility.
She needs a walking stick and has been unable to walk her beloved corgis.
The lift is able to carry three adults or a passenger in a wheelchair — meaning the Queen, 95, can now get to her bedroom without having to use the stairs.
She usually stays at Craigowan Lodge, which is on the Balmoral estate, twice a year — every April and for two weeks in the summer.
The rustic seven-bedroom stone cottage is just a mile from Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire. Prince Charles and Princess Diana used the picturesque hideaway for their honeymoon in 1981.
A Balmoral insider said: “For many years we have thought it would be the perfect place for the Queen to spend more time when she’s older. It’s one of her favorite places in the country.
“With the proper lift and now this new security, it can effectively be sealed off so she can spend much more time there quietly in her late nineties.”
Plans have been lodged with the local council for the new security measures to stop vehicles or tourists from getting near the cottage — which currently lies empty for most of the year.
Approval for the security gate, intercom, and road cameras is expected in the summer. A secure gate, fence, police sentry point, and CCTV are already in place at the only other access road to the remote cottage.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said: “Craigowan is one of the Queen’s favorite homes. She loves being there.
“The idea of making it easier for her so she can spend more time there in the future is a great idea.
“It’s a big, big house. The security makes it very safe.
“It makes perfect sense. It’s a home she has always enjoyed and it gives her a bit of independence.”
Royal biographer Penny Junor said of the Queen: “I don’t think we will see her out and about as much as it’s quite clear her mobility is challenged.”
She added: “She does love Scotland but I would not think she would use it (the cottage) year-round. It’s a lovely place for the summer but it’s pretty cold and bleak during the winter. But it is a very favorite place for her.”
Locals were delighted last night. James Anderson, chairman of Ballater and Crathie community council, said: “We will be pleased to see more of Her Majesty.
“She loves it up here and it’s a special place for her.
“The Royal Family do a lot for the village in bringing in a great deal of business.”
The Queen’s local butcher at Balmoral said people would be delighted if she spent more time at the private retreat.
Barry Florence of H.M. Sheridan said: “I’ve been lucky and privileged to meet the Queen on a few occasions — she has even been in the shop — and she said to me how much she enjoys it here and feels relaxed.
“What better place for her to spend more downtime than at Balmoral.”
Granddaughter Princess Eugenie has previously told of the Queen’s love of her Scottish home.
She said: “It’s the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the happiest there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands.”
Speaking in 2016 on ITV’s Our Queen At Ninety, she added: “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.”
Her Majesty has spent most of the past two years based at Windsor Castle, Berks. It is said she will never again live at Buckingham Palace, which is undergoing a £360million, ten-year renovation.
Meanwhile, aides are working to make sure she “paces herself” in a bid to make sure she attends her late husband Prince Philip’s memorial next month and her Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer.
Her no-show at last Monday’s Commonwealth Day ceremony was blamed by aides on “comfort” issues on the 60-mile round trip to Westminster Abbey, where she would be asked to sit for an hour.
Craigowan Lodge was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852 when they purchased the Balmoral estate.
A source close to the Queen said: “This is not a retirement home.”
Buckingham Palace did not want to comment last night.