A MANSION which was once bought as a present for a former nude model and belly dancer is to become a tourist attraction.

Mar Lodge, nestling in woodland near the Queen's Balmoral Estate on Royal Deeside, was once owned by American billionaire John Kluge.

The media tycoon bought the palatial house so his wife Patti, a former soft-porn actress and sex tutor, could achieve her ambition of living next to royalty.

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Mr Kluge spent #13m for the house, built at the request of Queen Victoria, and the 77,000-acre estate, which contains three of the top five highest mountains in Britain.

Mar Lodge was refurbished at a cost of #4m and Patti Kluge developed a sudden enthusiasm for the Duke of Edinburgh's favourite sport of carriage driving.

But her attempts at social climbing failed when she was persistently snubbed by the Queen, and Mr Kluge eventually grew tired of her extravagant lifestyle. The couple divorced in 1991 and Mr Kluge eventually sold the granite-built, 30-bedroom mansion in 1995 to the National Trust for Scotland, which made the purchase with the help of #10m in National Lottery cash.

Now the trust has applied to change the inside of the lodge, built in 1896 for Princess Louise, daughter of King Edward VII and grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, into separate holiday flats.

The rooms have been unused since the trust bought the lodge, which was destroyed by fire in 1991 then completely restored inside.

Trust spokesman Ian Davidson said: ''The lodge was burned down and rebuilt, but since we took it over it has been lying there without a use.

''We had to decide what to do with it and decided this was the best option.

''If we get the go-ahead, anybody who wants to have a holiday home here will be able to rent one of the flats.''

Mr Davidson said that the trust was planning three or four flats to begin with and might build a total of eight if the venture proved successful.

He declined to put a figure on the cost of renovating the building but said it would be substantial. If the work is given the go-ahead the flats will be ready for next year's tourist season.

The trust bought the estate, which contains some of the most sensitive environmental land in Scotland, after a long-running campaign by conservationists and politicians to have it returned to public ownership.

At one point Prince Charles made a personal plea to Mr Kluge for the house and estate to be sold to a conservation consortium, headed by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The lodge stands seven miles from Balmoral Castle and is one of the most stunning buildings in the Royal Deeside countryside.

Princess Louise and her husband, the Duke of Fife, lived in it for several years. Their daughter, who married Prince Arthur of Connaught, retained the property until her death in 1959.

The house then passed to her next-of-kin, the Duke of Fife, who, in 1961, sold it to a Swiss businessman, the late Gerald Panchaud. Mr Kluge bought it in 1989.

As well as 30 bedrooms, the lodge has a ballroom adorned by 3000 stags' heads.

The estate includes the peaks of Ben Macdui, Braeriach, and Cairn Toul, along with seven other Munros, mountains over 3000ft.

There are also remnants of the old Caledonian Pine Forest and the estate used to produce an average of 190 stags and 170 salmon a year for sporting purposes.