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Everything You Need to Know About Balmoral, the British Royal Family’s Scottish Summer Castle

This week, British outlets reported that King Charles and Queen Camilla are due to arrive at his private Scottish estate of Balmoral. It’s an annual tradition for not only the ruling monarch and his wife, but the Windsor family as a whole: every summer, most members of the extended clan trek up to Aberdeenshire to vacation at the majestic Highlands property. But what exactly goes on at this idyllic expanse, which has been in the royal family for more than 170 years?

Balmoral was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, after the couple fell in love with the countryside. Ever since, it’s been passed on to the successive generations of the royal family, playing host to its fair share of shenanigans, scandals, and secrets. Here’s a crash course on everything you need to know about this royal retreat.

It’s absolutely massive

Clocking in at about 50,000 acres, Balmoral is so large, it’s almost its own ecosystem: Mountains, forests, valleys, arable pastures, lochs, grouse moors, and gardens are just some of the different topography on the property. There are also 150 buildings on the estate, including Birkhall, Craigowan Lodge, and several other cottages.

Which means there’s so much room for activities!

Balmoral is a working estate—deer stalking, grouse shooting, forestry, and farming are just some of the many uses of the land. But it’s not all work and no play.

Queen Elizabeth II often horseback rode or drove her beloved Range Rover over its rugged terrain—sometimes with terrified dignitaries inside. Overall, the family enjoys fishing, hunting, picnicking, and barbecuing. (Prince Philip was allegedly quite the grill master.)

“Walks, picnics, dogs—a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs—and people coming in and out all the time,” Princess Eugenie said of Balmoral in an interview 2016 interview with ITV about her late grandmother. “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.”

It’s the place where royals can go nuts . . . seriously

Balmoral’s “special residents” aren’t only British monarchs, but also the red squirrels, an endangered mammal whose home is the Scottish Highlands. And, if you’re so inclined, you can watch them eat nuts and frolic around the estate via a live feed.



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