The Queen “Let Her Guard Down” When Welcoming Kate Middleton into the Fold

This is really thoughtful.

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.