The tiny royal residence you've never heard of

·6-min read
King Charles III Prince of Wales - Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images
King Charles III Prince of Wales - Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The estate isn't as famous as other royal residences, such as Balmoral and Sandringham. It looks rather understated, too, the restored farm buildings nestling into the unassuming village of Myddfai in rural Carmarthenshire, sitting on the western fringe of the Brecon Beacons National Park. But Llwynywermod has offered a restorative retreat for our new monarch, King Charles III, and the Queen Consort, Camilla, during their regular visits.

Indeed, the then-future King retreated to his Welsh home after the death of his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021, giving him space needed to “contemplate the future of the Royal Family”.

His Royal Highness has been reported as saying it took “a long search lasting some 40 years” to find his bucolic Welsh retreat. The then Duke and Duchess of Cornwall finally acquired the property in 2007 and had the house completely refurbished, using local materials and sustainable methods in keeping with his planet-saving principles.

West Range Cottage Wales
West Range Cottage Wales

It now comprises two holiday cottages and a Grade II-listed threshing barn, as well as the main farmhouse for the use of the royal couple. The holiday cottages, North Range (sleeps six) and West Range (sleeps four) have been available to the public to book (check website for latest updates) when members of the Royal Family are not in residence, while a wood-chip boiler for heating and hot water, is housed in a new-build barn.

“Myddfai is a traditional Welsh farming community, a place of rural peace and tranquillity. That’s the appeal for the royal couple. We treat Their Royal Highnesses as neighbours and respect their privacy,” says Hugh Davies, founding director of the Myddfai Community Hall and Visitor Centre, opened in 2011 by the then Prince Charles. The building today houses tourist information and a small café for visitors.

North Range cottage Wales
North Range cottage Wales

King Charles III has been closely bonded to Wales since his theatrical investiture as the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969. The title, bestowed on heirs to the English throne, spans the centuries to the early 1300s when King Edward I, having been victorious in crushing the Welsh rebellion of the Princes of Gwynedd, pledged his new-born baby son, born at Caernarfon Castle, as “a prince born in Wales who could speak never a word of English.” With the title now handed over to Prince William, speculation about a future ceremony at Caernarfon is providing local tourist guides with a welcome anecdotal alternative to tales of filming The Crown in the North Walian castle town.

The village of Myddfai, with its rugged sheep-grazing landscape and ancient cattle-droving trails for long, contemplative walks in the hills, feels like a place lost in time. The visitor hub is the nearby market town of Llandovery, the “pleasant little town” visited by the Victorian author George Borrows in his novel Wild Wales. The 1840-built Old Market Hall stands at the heart of the town, while the key landmark is the stainless-steel sculpture of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, whose death was ordered by Henry IV after he collaborated with the Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndwr. Llywelyn’s head ended up on a spike at the Tower of London.

Llandovery Wales
Llandovery Wales

The wider Carmarthenshire region, meanwhile, is a haven for local independent retailers, regional produce, and fans of mist-shrouded Welsh folklore. Amongst the visitor attractions to have welcomed the royal couple over the years, The National Botanic Garden of Wales makes for a nature-filled excursion with its centrepiece oval glasshouse, designed by Lord Norman Foster. His Royal Highness last visited earlier this summer when he was presented with an oak sapling to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.

The Apothecary’s Garden, incorporating a replica Victorian pharmacy, is devoted to plants for health, a reference to the legend of pioneering local herbalists, the Physicians of Myddfai. The physicians are said to have practised from the 12th century, having acquired their early homoeopathic skills when local monasteries flourished as schools of herbal medicine, a tradition our new nature-loving new king would doubtless approve of.

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan Owain Glyndwr
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan Owain Glyndwr

“His Royal Highness has a strong connection to the county, evidenced by his decision to make his home in Wales here,” says David Hardy, Head of Communications at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. “He was enthusiastic about the work we are doing with Welsh native plants, stressing the importance of nature to humans in a region steeped in the heritage of natural remedies,” adds Hardy, who is pushing ahead with Royal-approved plans for a Welsh heritage-apple orchard, launching at the Garden’s Apple Day on October 15.

The royal couple have also been regular visitors to Carmarthen Market. In fact, the King had been so impressed with the secret fruit-cake recipe of stall owner Etta Richardson that the couple commissioned Richardson’s Bakery in the market to make the cakes for their 2005 wedding reception. The owner has since retired but the market remains a champion for local produce, a key stop for the county’s three Larder Trails, a series of self-guided foodie driving routes, which are ideal for self-catering stays.

Carreg Cennen Castle - Visit Wales Image Centre
Carreg Cennen Castle - Visit Wales Image Centre

Stock up on picnic goodies at Wright’s Emporium, a food store, deli-café and wine shop just outside of Carmarthen, then join one of the well-signposted, circular walks around Carreg Cennen Castle, located some four miles from Llandeilo. After hiking around the patchwork fields of local farms, try scaling the ruined ramparts of the 13th-century fortress beyond its limestone anchor for stunning views across to North Pembrokeshire's Preseli Hills and Black Mountain.

The new world order under King Charles III may mean he has less time to spend at his beloved Welsh retreat. But he will remain forever bonded to a rural Welsh backwater and its supportive community. TV hosts Ant and Dec have often joked about how they befriended the heir to the throne to work on 2015 film When Ant and Dec Met the Prince: 40 Years of The Prince's Trust. They even secured an invite to stay at his home in Scotland during the filming. If Llwynywermod continues to offer holiday-cottage accommodation during the reign of Charles III, the Geordie duo may next spend the night at his understated Welsh bolthole.

The essentials

For more information, visit duchyofcornwallholidaycottages.co.uk and discovercarmarthenshire.com. Interested in King Charles' international residences? Check out this quirky European retreat.