King Charles described himself as enjoying taking on the “most difficult challenges” as he was filmed restoring an 18th-century stately home. The programme was filmed before King Charles became monarch, as it took more than a decade to successfully complete the project.
Filmmaker Jim Brown followed King Charles through every step of restoring the massive home and estate, which the monarch, then the Prince of Wales, described as “an appalling risk” as it was described as the biggest financial risk of his life.
Now that the estate has been fully restored, 300 local people now have jobs on the Dumfries estate, and the monarch has said the project was about the community as much as it was about restoring a historic site.
King Charles said: “I wanted to rescue the house because it is of such importance, I knew it was a very deprived area.
“I wanted to use it as a proper example of what I’ve always believed in, which is heritage-led regeneration. And trying to show people that it works… every time.”
While making the documentary, Mr Brown spend more time with King Charles than he anticipated, as the project was only originally meant to take two years.
The filmmaker said: “At the beginning, I was surprised at His Royal Highness’s attention to detail.
“I assumed that he had other people to make the day-to-day decisions, but as the weeks turned into months and then years, I really got the sense that this project was so important to him.”
Mr Brown said King Charles handled the project “as a leader, he was always optimistic, always positive and always motivating people.”
In 2007, His Majesty led a consortium which paid £47million for the Dumfries estate, including a £20million cheque from the royal’s own charitable foundation.
King Charles said: “I knew if we hadn’t stepped in and saved it, somebody would have bought it and said they had a great idea, you know, for golf courses and things,
“And it would never have worked, so it would have joined the list of yet more derelict country houses.”
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The Palladian mansion includes a “jaw-dropping” collection of 18th-century Rococo furniture, which has been handcrafted by historic furniture maker Thomas Chippendale.
Filmmaker Mr Brown said: “The collection that was specifically designed for this house would have been split up and sent all over the world.”
The documentary shows the passion and level of detail King Charles put into restoring the historic mansion, and it’s revealed that a Belvedere overlooking the walled garden is based on the monarch’s own design.
King Charles even has four lead gothic-looking Wyvern gargoyles commissioned for the stately home.
He said: “I did an awful sketch of it because I’d based it on something… some marvellous folly or house I’d seen. ”
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Mr Brown said that for King Charles “detail was important” and pointed towards a maze on the estate the monarch has also designed, which was inspired by the one a Sandringham House, where the royals traditionally spend every Christmas.
The filmmaker said: “The garden was very close to his heart, he knew exactly what he wanted and how it would react to the Scottish weather.”
One amusing scene from the documentary reveals that King Charles also has another talent – roasting marshmallows.
In one scene, workers on the project are huddled together around a fire toasting marshmallows, when the King advises them: “You really need a longer stick and from a lower angle, otherwise you cook your fingers.”
The ITV documentary, a Royal Grand Design will air this Wednesday (November 30) at 9pm.