Friday, 24 May 2024

The nine things the Royal Family do when they’re at Balmoral

Queen Elizabeth II wanted guests to ‘relax’ at Balmoral says May

August marks the start of the Royal Family’s summer holiday every year as they pack up and head to Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands for some rest and relaxation.

Being on the Scottish estate allows the Firm to kick back and indulge in some of their favourite countryside pastimes that they would never normally get to enjoy while on royal duty.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip would preside over the family for several weeks over the course of the late summer/early autumn, and now King Charles and Queen Camilla will be taking up the mantle.

However Charles and Camilla prefer to stay at Birkhall, their own private residence on the estate, as their new reign sees the start of new traditions at Balmoral.

Given their love of the outdoors it seems likely the traditional Balmoral itinerary will remain in place, as takes a look at what the royals get up to on their holiday.

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Many of the Firm’s favourite pastimes are outside, with the wild Scottish Highlands the perfect place for roaming and exploring the countryside.

Balmoral is a working estate, and as such deer stalking, forestry, farming and grouse shooting all take place on the land, which is home to spectacular wildlife such as the rare red squirrel.

Despite their main base being in London, the royals are country folk at heart and enjoy riding and shooting, as has been depicted in the Balmoral scenes in the smash hit Netflix show The Crown.

When the late Queen would invite guests to the castle they were often shocked to see her driving across the rough terrain in her Range Rover, as she harked back to her time as a Princess driving vehicles for the Army.

Food is also incorporated into the Firm’s outdoorsy activities, as fishing and going for picnics are favourites when the weather is favourable.

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The Queen and Prince Philip’s barbecues during their time saw the late Duke dubbed grillmaster in chief, as he reportedly would not allow anyone else near when he was in charge of preparing the meats.

Speaking in 2021 for a tribute programme for his father Charles revealed: “He adored barbecuing and he turned that into an interesting art form.

“And if I ever tried to do it he… I could never get the fire to light or something ghastly so (he’d say): ‘Go away!'”

His grandson Prince William praised his grilling skills: “Every barbecue that I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking… he’s definitely a dab hand at the barbecue.

“I can safely say there’s never been a case of food poisoning in the family that’s attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh!”

As Philip was on grilling duty the Queen was in charge of preparing the salads and doing the washing up, something which surprised then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she visited Balmoral.

Princess Eugenie said of her time on the royal Scottish estate: “Walks, picnics, dogs — a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs — and people coming in and out all the time.

“It’s a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa, for us to come and see them up there, where you just have room to breathe and run.”

Mrs Thatcher was not the only guest to be entertained at Balmoral over the years, as the royals love to host friends, family and other esteemed members of society at the castle.

Prince Harry’s 32nd birthday party was held there, back in his party-loving days before he settled down with Meghan Markle and moved to California.

The Ghillies Ball is perhaps the most famous celebration held at Balmoral, another occasion that was featured in the most recent series of The Crown.

The traditional dance dates back to the time of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, when they would hold a summer party for their staff, which was known in Gaelic as ‘ghillies’.

Queen Elizabeth attended her first Ghillies Ball when she was just 12, then years later in 1991 she allowed filmmakers to document the event for the only time in its history.

She was seen decked out in a tartan sash enjoying the Highland dancing enthusiastically alongside then-Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Princess Anne and the Queen Mother, although in her later years the Queen declined to take part in the dancing.

The last ball was held in 2019, as it was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021, and it is not thought to have taken place last year due to the Queen’s death on September 8.

It is not known whether Charles and Camilla plan to restart the tradition this year.

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