Royal family’s Balmoral summer holiday – hunting, strict schedules and five outfit changes a day

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The easing of lockdown means the royal family get to enjoy their annual summer holiday with the Queen at Balmoral – but things will be a little different this year.

The Queen and Prince Philip will spend the next few months at their 50,000-acre Scottish estate and their relatives and in-laws will come and stay at different points.

According to her granddaughter Princess Eugenie, the stunning castle is where the Monarch is “the most happy”, and she loves spending time with her children and their familes.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their kids George, Charlotte and Louis, Prince Charles, Camilla, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and the York sisters all pop in to stay with the Queen and Philip during their holidays – making it a very busy time for them.

But what exactly do the royals get up to during their Scottish break?

Due to social distancing, relatives will stay at separate accommodation rather than sleeping in the Castle itself.

However the majority of their normal holiday activities take place outdoors anyway, so they won’t have to make many changes to ensure everyone is safe.

Speaking on ITV’s documentary Our Queen at 90, Eugenie, who was spotted arriving at the Castle last week, talked about previous trips to Balmoral.

She said: “It’s the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there, I think she really, really loves the Highlands…walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs, and people coming in and out all the time.

“Family-wise we’re all there, so it’s a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa to be – for us to come and see them up there where you just have room to breathe and run.”

But according to an insider, it’s not almost the most relaxing break and things can be pretty hectic.

They told Vanity Fair: “It can get quite busy at what they call ‘the big house’ and it’s not especially relaxing even though it’s a holiday.

“There’s a daily routine which evolves around meal times, several outfit changes every day, sometimes five, and the Queen likes everything to run like clockwork.

“The focus is on being outdoors and in the countryside walking, grousing, fishing and hunting.”

Balmoral is a working estate with highlights including grouse moors, the lush green forests and farmland, as well as plenty of animals from the herds of deer to Highland cattle and ponies.

The Royals love grouse hunting, and go out regularly during their time at the castle.

Prince Charles, William, Harry and Kate have all been known to go out shooting over the summer months, and last year they even took little George along to watch.

However, they were forced to call off the whole grouse shooting season last year as there was a drop in the number of the birds in the area due to insects and bad  weather.

Photographer Milton Gendel said he was invited to Balmoral back in 1976 (his wife was a close friend of Princess Margaret), and opened up about the experience to  Vanity Fair  .

He wrote: “On some days there were excursions into the country. The Queen had been taught to drive by auxiliary army officers during World War II, and she handled a Land Rover with intrepid skill on the hilly and winding roads.

“When we went riding, she saddled her horse, and afterward carried the saddle back to the stable herself.

“At a shoot on the grounds a truck delivered a sumptuous buffet lunch. The ‘guns’ lay on the grass for a postprandial respite.

“The Queen and her sister walked about, deep in conversation. They were very close; when apart, they telephoned two or three times a day. The atmosphere was always agreeable, buoyed by the light touch of the Queen and her sister.”

The Queen has no official duties while she’s in Scotland – it is her holiday after all- but she does attend the annual Braemar Gathering where she’s often spotted laughing at the fun events including the caber tossing, the tug of war and the sack races.

However, this year’s event has been cancelled due to COVID – news which will undoubtedly be very disappointing for the Monarch.

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