August and September are the months when even the hardest-working members of the royal family manage to take some time off. The Queen has spent part of almost every summer on the Balmoral estate since she was a child. First with her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and then with her parents and sister, Princess Margaret. She learnt to shoot and to stalk over its rolling hills and moody mountains and accepted young Philip Mountbatten’s proposal of marriage somewhere within its charmed walls.
Southwest of the village of Ballater on the River Muick is Birkhall, one of the most beautiful houses on the estate, now occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. Birkhall is where Elizabeth and Philip spent the latter part of their honeymoon and a more romantic spot would be hard to find. Today it is Charles and Camilla’s chosen destination for holidays. They used to travel to France or Italy to paint and swim in the Mediterranean off luxury yachts with friends, but now with so much travel in their working life they prefer not to go abroad and instead stay in their own Highland home.
Catherine and William are fortunate to have a huge choice for their children’s long summer holidays and can take advantage of the wonderful beaches along the Norfolk coast and the miles of paths through the Sandringham estate on which they can ride ponies or bikes. They have also been having sailing lessons and on a July trip to Tresco in the Isles of Scilly mucked about on boats and rode their bikes around the island – exactly as William and Harry did with their parents more than 30 years ago.
Before the Cambridge children start at their new school this month they will have visited the Queen at Balmoral and stayed with their grandfather, Prince Charles, at nearby Birkhall. All royal children love the Balmoral estate, which is important as one day the upkeep of the royal lands will be their responsibility.
It has been rumoured that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex accepted an invitation to stay at Balmoral with their children. If this is the case it makes perfect sense as it is the only time in the year that the Queen has to get to know her extended family. Harry’s autobiography is expected to be published by Penguin Random House in time for Thanksgiving in the United States, although the publishers are not committing themselves to an exact date. This creates a mystery around the tome, which is just what they want for maximum publicity. If Pulitzer Prize-winning ghost-writer J. R. Moehringer’s previous books are anything to go by, Harry’s book will concentrate on his internal feelings and how they relate to his life now rather than say anything derogatory about his family.
As a treat for seven-year-old Princess Charlotte her parents took her to the Commonwealth Games. She had previously recorded an Instagram message with her father in which they wished the England women’s football team good luck at the Euro 2022 final against Germany at Wembley. When the Lionesses won it was an emotional moment for everyone and the Queen sent a message of congratulation saying: ‘You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.’