A castle with romantic links to Shakespeare’s Macbeth was reopened to the public yesterday after a family feud over who should live in it.
Angelika, the Dowager Countess Cawdor, took legal action in November against her stepson, the Earl of Cawdor, claiming that he had breached the terms of a lease when he moved into the castle while she was on holiday.
A judge stopped short of evicting Lord Cawdor, and his wife and three children, but agreed that he had broken a condition that the castle in the Highlands could not be used as a family home. As a result, the earl moved out of the private apartments, allowing the countess to return.
She inherited the castle in Morayshire nine years ago and until recently was a co-director, with her stepson, of the company that runs it as a tourist attraction.
Directors of the company are permitted to live in the castle in winter, when it is not open to the public, and the legal action was prompted when Lord Cawdor moved in while his stepmother was in America.
The estate’s operating company, Cawdor Castle Tourism, has now been replaced by a new firm, Cawdor Castle Limited, in which the earl has no involvement.
The countess said: “I’ve been asked by many people whether it was indeed true that we were opening. They had seen signs and advertisements declaring that the castle shop was to stage a grand closing down sale.
“That was nothing to do with me, or the company which now runs the tourism business. It will be business as usual at Cawdor Castle although it will be run by a new operating company.”
“Friends and colleagues have worked day and night to get everything ready and we're sure that we will experience another fantastic tourist season.”
The castle has been the ancestral seat of the Thanes of Cawdor — Macbeth was the most famous thane — since the late 14th century and was left to the Czech-born countess by her late husband, the 6th Earl of Cawdor.