It seems relatively low-key (castle aside)
Words by Stacey Leasca
From the editors of Travel + Leisure
It’s the end of August, which for most of us means end of summer backyard bashes and back to school shopping. If you’re a member of the British royal family, however, August means one thing: time to head to Balmoral Castle.
The 50,000-acre estate located in the Scottish Highlands, which has been in the royal family since 1852, is a perennial favourite vacation destination for the Windsors and this year appears to be no different. But what goes on at the royal family’s summer home still remains a little bit of a mystery.
Balmoral Castle was famously where Queen Elizabeth took Prince William and Harry in the wake of their mother Diana’s death, in an attempt to shield them from the press. The isolated royal residence was reportedly stripped of all TVs and radios at the time, to protect them from hearing the devastating details and media circus to allow them to grieve privately.
As Vogue noted, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once called visits to the castle ‘freaky’, while Margaret Thatcher called trips to Balmoral ‘akin to purgatory’.
However, as The Guardian reported, trips to Balmoral sound utterly benign and more closely comparable to an all-American summer vacation than bizarre royal event, with ‘a formal dinner and, weather permitting, an informal barbecue. Walking, fishing and deer stalking are all on offer.’
And as Blair even described in his autobiography, the royals are downright just like us: They wash their own dishes after the barbecue.
‘You think I’m joking, but I’m not,’ Blair wrote. ‘They put the gloves on and stick their hands in the sink. The Queen asks if you’ve finished, she stacks the plates up and goes off to the sink.’
And this year’s vacation appears to be no more formal than year’s past. As Vogue reported, the royal family even ditched their normal chauffeurs to carpool to church on Sunday, with Prince William and Kate hitching a ride with William’s uncle, Prince Andrew, Prince Charles driving his wife Camilla and Prince Edward driving with his royal passengers, Zara and Mike Tindall.
And sure, this may not seem like a big deal for a normal family retreat, but we aren’t talking about an everyday family here, they are royal after all.
While we are sure the entire Windsor enjoys their time at the castle, ‘freaky’ or otherwise, they may simply be returning year after year to keep their grandmother, the Queen, happy.
‘It’s the most beautiful place on earth,’ Princess Eugenie once said of Balmoral. ‘I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands.’