A Highlands castle previously lived in by the Queen Mother will not allow civil partnerships to be carried out on its grounds.

Trustees of the Castle of Mey, near John O’Groats in Caithness, are opening its doors to wedding ceremonies to raise money, but have said gay couples will not be able to hold their ceremonies at the venue.

They have said the decision is not illegal as the castle does not have a wedding licence – and under the legislation only Christian weddings could be held there, as ministers or priests were individually licensed to perform.

A spokesman for the castle said: “If we receive an application for a civil ceremony we will not be applying for a licence, the trustees have decided.

“They have to be Christian weddings performed by a minister or priest.”

Outrage said the Queen Mother “would be spinning in her grave.”

“This seems even more ridiculous given that The Queen Mother surrounded herself with gay people,” said David Allison spokesman for Outrage.

“Doing this at the Queen Mother’s old residence is particularly odd. She had no problem with gay people – quite the opposite.”

The Castle of Mey was the only home the Queen Mother actually owned.

She had it restored and renovated from its near-ruined state.