Having spent their annual summer break at Balmoral Castle with a reduced number of carefully picked staff, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh managed to see their family without having them to stay. It was not a problem as there are many houses and cottages on the Balmoral Estate, a few of which were made available so family members could use them. They could then join in with the shooting and stalking and spend time with the Queen and Prince Philip.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children were the first visitors, followed by the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and Tim Laurence, and Peter Phillips and his daughters. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and children George, Charlotte and Louis also visited; they have their own cottage near Birkhall.
Unsurprisingly, when George was spotted on the moors watching the traditional grouse shoot with his father, there was press criticism. But royal children are taught to shoot when they are young and in seven-year-old George’s case he will one day be responsible for overseeing the running of the royal estates, so it is important he begins to understand estate management.
The Balmoral break provides a rare opportunity for the Queen and Philip to see their expanding family in total privacy, and they treasure their time there. However, this year the Queen left Balmoral three weeks earlier than usual, partly to allow her staff some time off and partly to enable the castle to reopen to the public, raising revenue for the estate’s maintenance.
Instead of heading directly for Windsor Castle, the Queen and Prince Philip have been enjoying some time at Wood Farm, their five-bedroom farmhouse on the Sandringham Estate near the royal stud at Wolferton. Later this month Windsor will once again become the Queen’s base and she will travel to Buckingham Palace for certain official duties, taking care to come in close contact only with those in her personal ‘bubble’.
Across the Atlantic, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been able to make their final break from the financial strings of the royal family by signing a multi-million-dollar deal with the streaming giant Netflix. In a TV interview joint CEO Reed Hastings said he was ‘excited’ to confirm that Harry and Meghan had chosen Netflix over all the other companies they had ‘shopped around’ because it put together ‘the best complete package for a wide range of entertainment with them.’ He also confirmed the ‘real focus’ of the deal ‘was on them as being producers’, which is what they wanted. The couple are expected to derive additional income from speaking engagements and it has been rumoured that they will be charging around $1 million per booking.
To Prince Harry’s credit, as soon as they were financially secure he repaid the £2.4 million cost to the British taxpayer through the Sovereign Grant for the refurbishment of Frogmore House, which remains their UK base.
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