King Charles in candid admission ahead of ITV stately home restoration: 'Appalling risk!'


In a new programme for ITV that has been over a decade in the making, King Charles III leads a team of expert restorers as they save a stately home and its 2,000 acres of estate in order to preserve its history and help regenerate the local community. In the new ITV special A Royal Grand Design, viewers will follow His Royal Highness and his ambitious plans to help restore Dumfries House, a historic stately home in Cumnock, Scotland.

Speaking back when he was the Prince of Wales, he told the programme: “I’m one of those people who likes to take on the most difficult challenges,” as he explained his reasoning behind the arduous task. 

The then-prince said: “If you think of the skill, devotion and dedication that went into building these buildings, with unbelievable skilled craftsmen, very often their descendants are still in the area.

“So I’ve always felt we owe it to those skilled craftsmen to help maintain the results of their labours.”

The hour-long special, narrated by Richard E Grant, tells the history of the estate and how it came to be for sale.

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His Royal Highness and The Prince’s Foundation paid £45 million for the dilapidated estate, and while the project was a big risk, he assured: “I felt it was worth taking.”

Dating back to the 1750s, the estate is located just west of Cumnock in East Ayrshire, Scotland.

As one of the most rundown areas in the UK, The Prince described the town as having “Many of the worst indices of unemployment and ill health.” 

While restoring the main house was a big part of the project, The Prince’s vision was to instil a sense of pride to the surrounding communities.

With sustainability being at the forefront of The Prince’s agenda, he shared how he hopes the project will “make this area a great example of how you can create new businesses and jobs in the green economy”.

The project promoted “heritage-led regeneration,” which The Prince and Foundation hope will not only provide sustainable change to the local area, but also create more opportunities and business for the wider community.

“It’s what you can do for the local community with the house and the estate,” The Prince said as he shared his plans for the restoration project.

As well as the main house, the estate will also include a horticultural and education centre, an outdoor adventure centre, an artists’ studio, an architecture centre and a teaching farm.

The film detailed the vision the prince has for the project and its impact on the local community of Cumnock.

He also shared his hopes that the project will influence other regeneration projects around the country in the future.

With the “wettest winter on record in Scotland” during the laborious restoration, the programme promises an insight into The Prince’s passion and commitment to the project.

Of the project, a local Cumnock resident said: “The place just looked like a dump, but now it’s paradise.”

This project is just the beginning though, as Charles said: “I hope there will be another project fairly soon somewhere, which could be quite large, and hopefully there will be other opportunities.”

The programme is dedicated to the memory of the late Queen Elizabeth II who passed away in September.

The Prince, who took to the throne, is seen showing his late mother around the grounds of the estate during the programme when she opened the walled garden in 2014. 

A Royal Grand Design airs on Wednesday, November 30 at 9pm on ITV 1


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