I AM ambivalent about the British royal family. What is undeniable is that in two decades as a travel writer, I’ve realised the seismic effect they have had on Scottish ­tourism and Scottishness as it relates to tourism.

It would be a stretch to say what others have excitedly gushed – that Queen Victoria invented Scottish tourism – but this usurping royal ­dynasty has had an influence across our country that is vividly palpable today.

Victoria’s legacy can feel overwhelming and can even mislead. I was perfectly happy to gaze over Highland Perthshire’s Queen’s View believing what I read about it being named after Victoria. It was not until I researched National Geographic’s Scotland guide that I questioned whether the real monarch whose heart was captured was Robert the Bruce’s first wife.

Queen Victoria’s love of Scotland – and more specifically the Highlands – is, though, clear from her writings, sketches and the sheer number of times she ventured to the north.

She herself gushed, “the romance and the wild loveliness … beloved Scotland the proudest, finest country in the world”.

I take that complimentary sentiment with a serious pinch of salt. To talk of Scotland as “wild” and ­“romantic” is to veer into ­territory that many TV producers and ­presenters – even some of my fellow travel writers – south of the Border are still bogged down in.

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This fetishisation of Scotland has its dangers – if we are to narrowly look at the Highlands as a great, ­virginal wilderness, that sweeps ­under the carpet that it was once ­inhabited by thousands of clansfolk. They worked the land since time ­immemorial, ­before being ­unceremoniously ­booted off in the aftermath of Culloden and the baleful Clearances, often ­brutal evictions that spread beyond the Highlands.

If we are seduced by the kilts, ­bagpipes and cheery Highland ­peasant cliches that Victoria wrapped herself in – and the other Charlie ­today does, by draping himself in ­tartan for the Braemar Gathering – then we strip that land of real people trying to lead real lives.

Tourism can fetishise Scotland, which works well if your ­narrative is one of today’s vast estates ­doing a ­benevolent job of managing a ­wildscape that needs tamed and ­managed. Managed, of course, for the few. Remember that in Scotland around 500 people today own around half of our country, with swathes of land at the behest of our newly anointed king.

These are land ownership and ­management issues that ­resonate around contemporary Scotland, ­issues we must at some point ­address, but for now let us turn to the often enjoyable and synapses-popping ­experiences you can have at ­Scotland’s royal sites, adding context to our knowledge of this country. I am generally talking of the ­Hanoverian (later changed to the more palatable Windsor moniker) sculpted sites, rather than Stuarts.

The crowning royal glory is, of course, Balmoral. I remember the first time being underwhelmed by the austere castle that Prince Albert conjured up for his love. But ­wandering its vast grounds I got it: Balmoral is more about the estate, about immersion in the ­tree-shrouded slopes and the gushing salmon-rich Dee. Walking around Balmoral is a joy you can share with the royals.

The National: The Royal Yacht Britannia now rests as a permanent tourist attraction in LeithThe Royal Yacht Britannia now rests as a permanent tourist attraction in Leith

Moving east through “Royal” ­Deeside, a sobriquet that is splayed across every tourist brochure, we come to Ballater, a fascinating wee village.

Local shops and bakers boast ­Royal Warrants and shopkeepers talk of Princess Anne popping in for biscuits and the late Duke of Edinburgh in search of octopus for his legendary Balmoral barbeques. Around 1500 people lined the streets for last year’s funeral cortege as Ballater ­thoroughly embraced royalty.

Also fascinating is the rebuilt ­Victorian Railway Station, now a ­museum commemorating the ­Deeside Line, built so Victoria wouldn’t have to be shoogled by horse-drawn ­carriage.

You can now follow Victoria’s route as the Deeside Way is a 41-mile ­walking trail on the old rail line that sweeps to Aberdeen. Indeed, there are numerous walks and sights ­dotted around Deeside that ooze royal connections, including the Crathes church where the late Queen ­controversially waded into the 2014 independence referendum at the last minute.

Moving south into Perthshire make a mental note to revisit the Perth City Hall next summer. It re-opens after a major revamp. Its crowning glory – ­literally – will be the Stone of ­Destiny.

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Our most precious rock was, of course, stolen by Edward I in 1296, spirited north by students in the 1950s and finally returned to ­Scotland as a 1996 devolution sweetener. It was “borrowed” again this year for the coronation.

Finally, the Stone of Destiny will enjoy a new home here in Perth near Scone Palace, where for centuries it crowned Scotland’s own monarchs.

Venturing further south there is Dunfermline, where Charles I was born in 1600. The Stuart Court moved to London in 1603, hoping to placate dissent against the Scottish monarchs holding Britain’s throne. It didn’t work out well as he was ­eventually beheaded in 1649. Robert the Bruce’s body lies metres away, as does Queen Margaret’s.

If you prefer something less ­cerebral head east to drink in the pubs William and Kate frequented when they were busy falling in love as St Andrews University students.

WE end our tour in Edinburgh, epicentre of this week’s royal ­shenanigans, in which the Scottish Government are playing a discretely diplomatic role. Charlie was bedecked in pomp at St Giles’ Cathedral where a year ago his mother lay before leaving ­Scotland for the last time. Nearby the royal gaff of the Palace of Holyroodhouse is open to the public – a window into royal life, history and intrigue.

Down the new tram line at Ocean Terminal our journey terminates. The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched in Scotland in 1954. It’s a surreal ­experience seeing the bedrooms where the royals slept as they cruised the world striving to rekindle the “Britannia Rules the Waves” days.

A regal experience is savouring ­afternoon tea in the Royal Deck Tearoom, where you can ponder the ­impact the British royals have had on Scotland, our tourism and more ­general perceptions of Scottishness.