Jobs will be lost at the Royal Family’s country home in Aberdeenshire after the King indicated that he no longer wanted to farm at Balmoral.

Four members of staff are going through the redundancy process as the estate reduces its number of Highland ponies and Highland cattle.

A flock of 300 sheep are believed to have been sold already.

The King appears to have acted after his mother’s death in September last year. The late Queen was a champion of the Highland pony and supported a stud at Balmoral to help to conserve the species.

A spokesman for the estate said that the Highland pony breeding programme would move to its “historic” base at Hampton Court in southwest London, with two mares from Balmoral making the journey.

Eight mares will be kept at Balmoral to help carry shot deer down from the hills, according to The Times.

The castle and estate have been in royal hands since 1852, when Queen Victoria established the land as her summer residence. Practices such as grouse shooting, deer stalking and salmon fishing have persisted ever since on the 50,000 prime acres of Royal Deeside.

In recent years, the commercial potential of the property has been explored with holiday cottages, Land Rover expeditions, tours of parts of the castle, a tearoom and a mews shop.

On the potential job losses, the Balmoral spokesman said: “During this period of transition the royal household is in consultation with staff who will be affected by the change.”

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