For Prince William, trekking off to Balmoral in Scotland—reportedly the Queen’s favorite place on earth—was just a normal part of summer. But for the then Kate Middleton, William’s girlfriend, it had to have been intimidating to visit the retreat for the first time. Thankfully, Her Majesty made her feel comfortable by letting her guard down and giving the future Duchess of Cambridge a rare privilege: allowing her to bring along her camera and take pictures of the estate and the surrounding landscape after learning how much Kate enjoyed photography.
While this may not sound like a big deal, according to The Mirror, it was—this was not typical royal protocol. Royal expert Katie Nicholl seconds this in her book Kate: The Future Queen, writing “until now, the Queen had met Kate only fleetingly at the wedding of Peter and Autumn Philips, but she went out of her way to make her feel welcome, giving her permission to take pictures at Balmoral.”
The now-divorced Peter and Autumn Phillips were married in 2008, so by this point, William and Kate had been together for over five years. Her Majesty obviously knew this was serious. (William and Kate would become engaged in 2010 and married the next year.)
“As a woman who has lived her entire life in the public eye, the Queen rarely lets her guard down, and very few, apart from her family and closest friends, get to see the real Elizabeth,” Nicholl writes. Letting Kate in like this really meant something.
Her Majesty summers at Balmoral throughout August and into September annually—in fact, as you read this, she is there, likely enjoying the family members that come visit her and take part in picnics, barbeques, and a wide range of outdoor pursuits on the estate’s 50,000 acres. Of Balmoral, one of the Queen’s granddaughters, Princess Eugenie, said in the documentary Our Queen at 90 “it’s the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands…walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs, and people coming in and out all the time. Family-wise we’re all there, so it’s a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa to be—for us to come and see them up there where you just have room to breathe and run.”
How kind for the Queen to make Kate feel instantly at home there, too.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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