Queen was ‘never happier’ than in Balmoral

Scotland has been a special place for the Queen in recent decades, both for holidays and royal duties.

She spent part of her honeymoon in Birkhall on the rural Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire and the estate was her favorite residence in Scotland.

Queen Victoria described Balmoral as her ‘heaven on earth’ when it was redeveloped in the 1850s and the Queen ‘would never be happier’ than when she spent her summer holidays at the estate in the North East.

It has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family since it was bought by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852 and passed down through the generations.

The usual August and September stay, which extends into October, has traditionally included a visit to the nearby Braemar Gathering, where the Queen headed the Highland Games event.

She also regularly visited Crathie Kirk while staying in Balmoral and the small church became memorable in the Scottish independence debate days before the 2014 poll, when the Queen reportedly told people outside a Sunday service to “think very carefully about the future” before casting their vote.

Prime Ministers and Prime Ministers visited the Queen in Balmoral and stayed for short periods.

David Cameron once said there wasn’t much “chillaxing” – chilling and relaxing – in Balmoral, while the royals passed their time horseback riding, fishing or walking.

The Queen spent so much time at Balmoral Castle that she perfected the Aberdeenshire accent, according to her cousin.

Margaret Rhodes told BBC Radio 4 that the monarch was a “very, very good impersonator” who could “make the accents of Norfolk and Scottish – Aberdeenshire – beautiful”.

The Queen began her annual holiday with a cruise around the Western Isles on the Royal Yacht Britannia before heading to Balmoral.

The tradition was set aside after the yacht was taken out of service in 1997, but in 2006 she chartered a luxury vessel, the Hebridean Princess, to celebrate her 80th birthday with her family while cruising around the Western Isles.

She repeated the experience in 2010.

The Queen also spent a week each summer visiting regions around Scotland during the so-called “Royal Week” or Holyrood Week.

The week always started in the forecourt of Holyrood Palace with the ceremony of the keys when the Queen was welcomed to Edinburgh by the Lord Provost, who presented her with the keys to the city.

During Royal Week, the Queen hosted an annual garden party, welcoming around 8,000 guests to the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

An inauguration ceremony was also held during the week, usually running from late June to early July.

During her reign, the Queen visited almost every part of Scotland, launching ships and opening major developments such as the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

As head of the Commonwealth, she attended the opening ceremony of the 2014 Glasgow Games before leading the rest of her family in a series of site visits during the event.

One of her first official duties when she became queen after the death of her father, King George VI, was to plant a cherry tree at Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk, the parish church for the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

After her coronation – the first to be broadcast live on television – crowds lined the streets of the Scottish capital as the Queen received the Honors of Scotland – the Scottish crown, scepter and sword of state.

In 2015, the Queen and Philip marked the day she became the UK’s longest reigning monarch with a steam train ride from Edinburgh for the opening of the new Borders Railway.

The Queen appoints Liz Truss as Prime Minister during an audience in Balmoral (Jane Barlow/PA)

(PA wire)

In 2022, for the first time in her reign, the Queen appointed a new Prime Minister at Balmoral Castle instead of Buckingham Palace.

Her age and mobility issues led to outgoing Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson and new Prime Minister Liz Truss making the trip from London to instead see the monarch in the Highlands while she was on her summer break.