Balmoral Castle should be opened to the public following Queen Elizabeth's death, according to the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

The castle is typically only open between April and July before the Royal Family arrive for their summer holiday.

The historic building is where the late Queen passed away, but generates only around half of its £3m upkeep through tourism.

And Blackford believes that King Charles should open up areas of the grounds to the wider public year-round.

He said: "I think after an appropriate and respectful period of reflection in honouring Her Majesty's memory, making Balmoral-a-year-round visitor attraction is something King Charles 111 should consider," said Mr Blackford.

"Obviously the parts of the castle that are especially sensitive to the late Queen should remain out of bounds, but there must be scope to extend both what the public can see and throughout the year.

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"It would provide a massive boost to both the local economy and also in employment. It would also help Balmoral pay its way. The fascination in the place has increased even more given the Queen's final links to the place she loved above all others.

"The King has Birkhall and Craigowan Lodge as bases on the estate, which will still afford plenty of privacy, as well as for the new Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, who have taken on Charles's Scottish titles. They will presumably spend more time north of the border.

"But ultimately the decision over Balmoral will rest with King Charles and what ever he decides I will respect. On a personal level I like him and enjoy his company - and he clearly loves Scotland."

Only Balmoral's ballroom - where the Queen's coffin first rested - is normally open to the public.

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There are also some wildlife 'safaris' to view Balmoral's animals, such as deer and capercaille, outside of the main season.

Blackford added:"I am content with carrying on with having a Monarch as head of state.

"We have a monarchical union whose existence predates the Act of Union.

“And I think it's right that we celebrate all the things that the Queen has done and that we welcome Prince Charles as a new monarch."

Blackford also praised the King's "sense of public duty" and said that a planned 20-minute audience with the new head of state had ended up being double that length, which was "the mark of the man".

In 2014, former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill raised the prospect of a referendum on retaining the monarchy when he said “it will be for the people of Scotland to decide” on the Queen’s role.

Meanwhile Ballater near Balmoral is to consider how to commemorate the reign of Elizabeth 11 - who left a lasting imprint on the nearby community that considered her a neighbour.

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James Anderson, chair of Ballater and Crathie Community Council, said they are to meet next month (October 10) to start to decide what would be a fitting memorial.

"We are open to ideas not just from council members but also the wider local community. It will be a tough ask to mark her big contribution to the area," he said.

"We need to work out what we do. We also have to be mindful that we have the King's coronation coming up some time too. It is not just the one thing to mark.

"One suggestion before the Queen's death was an avenue of trees to celebrate her platinum jubilee - so that is possibly one thing now that could now take on a different meaning. It is about finding the right balance and it will be a difficult job."

Ballater lies eight miles from Balmoral Castle, the late Queen's beloved Highland retreat where she died on September 8.

The normally quiet village turned into a gauntlet of cameras hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal family as they rushed to her bedside in her final hours.

Ballater looked very different on the day of the Queen’s funeral, with most of the shops and businesses closed.

The Queen was seen around the village over the years and was a regular worshipper at Crathie Kirk when she was in residence at Balmoral.

The Royal Family has issued a previously unseen photograph of the Queen as they announced her interment.

The image shows a young queen, wearing her trademark headscarf, walking in the hills on the Balmoral Estate.

Confirming her interment at Windsor Castle, the image was captioned with words King Charles used in his first address to the nation on becoming the monarch.

It placed a picture of Her Majesty with the caption “‘May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.’

“In loving memory of Her Majesty The Queen. 1926 – 2022.”