Fishing, picnics and plenty of dog walks define the royal family's summer days at the favorite escape
According to ITV News editor Chris Ship, Prince William and Kate Middleton are expected to join King Charles at the royal family’s private residence in the Scottish Highlands in the coming days. The Prince and Princess of Wales, both 41, are expected to bring their three kids to the Balmoral break, continuing a royal tradition that spans generations.
Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, bought Balmoral in 1852, and members of the British royal family have vacationed there ever since. Queen Elizabeth roamed the grounds as a child, as did Charles, who brought his sons Prince William and Prince Harry there when they were growing up.
"The princes were inseparable, solid for one another,” royal photographer Arthur Edwards previously told PEOPLE of the bond he saw between Charles and his sons.
Commenting on iconic shots he took of the trio exploring the River Dee with their dogs in August 1997 (just weeks before the tragic death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash), the author of Behind the Crown: My Life Photographing the Royal Family said, “They looked so relaxed, having fun together on that summer holiday in Balmoral when I took these photos.”
When the Wales family arrives at Balmoral sometime soon, Prince William will likely follow in his father’s footsteps by exploring the vast grounds with his kids, as they have in past years. Balmoral was Queen Elizabeth’s summer sanctuary throughout her record-breaking reign and she traditionally spent every August there.
Family and friends convened at the castle and made the most of the grounds with outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, horseback riding and picnics, past times that King Charles will likely continue.
The holiday will be bittersweet as the royal family’s first summer stay at Balmoral without Queen Elizabeth, who died there in September 2022 at age 96. The vast castle proved to be a favorite escape for the Queen in her later years, where Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, paid her plenty of visits.
In April, the Prince and Princess of Wales gave a glimpse of a family gathering at Balmoral with a new photo of the late Queen and some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The shot (taken by Princess Kate!) was released in honor of what would have been Queen Elizabeth’s 97th birthday.
The photo snapped in the summer of 2022 showed the sovereign sitting on a green couch surrounded by George, Charlotte and Louis, plus Zara and Mike Tindall’s kids Mia, 9, Lena, 5, and Lucas, 2, and Peter Phillips' daughters, Savannah, 12, and Isla, 11. Saving seats for their grandmother and younger cousins, Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh’s teen kids Lady Louise Windsor, 19, and James, Earl of Wessex, 15, smiled behind them.
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The intergenerational bond around Balmoral was also evident in a photo courtiers circulated following Prince Philip’s death in April 2021. The picture, taken in the summer of 2018, showed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip sitting in another cozy room of the castle with George, Charlotte, Louis, Mia, Lena, Savannah and Isla.
Both born that year, Louis and Lena were both just a few months old at the time. Queen Elizabeth held Prince William’s youngest son, while Isla cuddled her cousin Lena.
As the family comes together again, convening at Balmoral will surely cap the summer on a sweet note. During a 2020 chat on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, Prince Kate revealed that she’s happiest when "I'm with my family outside in the countryside, and we're all filthy dirty."
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