Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue change

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Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue change

The time has come around once again for the Royal Family to put duties and engagements aside and indulge in some rest and relaxation.

King Charles and Queen Camilla have already headed to Scotland ahead of spending much of August and September on the Balmoral estate - and it is expected that during this time, they will be visited by other members of the Firm.

But, of course, the trip will be a bittersweet one as it is the first summer since the late Queen peacefully died at the royal residence last September. Balmoral was said to be the place where she was happiest and her summer holidays there were something she relished.

So with a new monarch in charge, it is inevitable that some things during the annual Balmoral trip will change, while some will remain the same. Here we take a look at what is in store for their annual vacation...

Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue change rriddqixxiqezinvThe royals will shortly be decamping to Balmoral for their annual summer holiday (AFP via Getty Images)

Change of venue

One very different aspect of the Balmoral getaway this year will be where the monarch, now King Charles, stays. His mother, the late Queen, always based herself within Balmoral Castle with family members coming and going.

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However, Charles and Camilla have reportedly chosen Birkhall as their main base until autumn instead, leaving Balmoral Castle without a monarch physically in residence for the first time since the 19th century.

Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue changeCharles and Camilla with their dogs Beth and Bluebell at Birkhall (Clarence House via Getty Images)

Birkhall, the smaller private residence on the 50,000-acre Balmoral estate, is where the couple spent most of the Covid-19 lockdown and the King has called it "such a special place". He inherited it upon the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 and has diligently turned it into somewhere he and his wife Camilla can happily call home.

However, sources told the Daily Mail the King and Queen will 'decamp' to the main castle for official visits, like that of the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf. Each year, the late Queen would invite political figures such as the Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister of the day to stay at Balmoral for the weekend.

Family guestlist

But despite that change, much like every year, extended members of the King's family will all make the trip to Balmoral to spend quality time together. Those at the top of the list to visit include the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The King's sister Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence are expected along with her son Peter and his two daughters and her daughter Zara, her husband Mike and their three children. They will be joined by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and their two teenage children Louise and James.

Despite questions over whether he would attend, the Daily Mail reports Prince Andrew will also head to Balmoral as will his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie and their husbands and children.

Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue changeThe late Queen with some of her youngest relatives during her last Balmoral holiday last year (PA)

Harry and Meghan 'snub'

However, two relatives who almost definitely won't be at Balmoral this year are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. The Sussexes snubbed several invitations from the late Queen to enjoy a break at Balmoral in recent years - and this year is set to prove no different.

According to royal expert and author Robert Jobson, there has always been an "open invite" for Harry and Meghan and their children to join in with family gatherings from the Palace. But there has been no specific olive branch from the King to his estranged younger son. Writing in the Express, he says an insider warned: "There is not much dialogue if any between the King and his second son."

William's kilt

The Balmoral break is the time of year when the royals can really relax and swap their smart working outfits for comfy clothes more suited to outdoor pursuits. And in keeping with the Scottish spirit, King Charles is often spotted wearing a kilt there.

Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue changeKing Charles in a kilt with Princes William and Harry in 1997 (Mirrorpix)

However, it is reportedly unlikely that we will see Prince William following in his father's footsteps as he appears to have resisted the tradition. William has never explained why he is never seen wearing one. He was photographed wearing a kilt when he was a child, but whenever he attends events in Scotland, he usually dons a suit. Also at his graduation ceremony at St Andrews University in 2005, he chose to wear a suit and not a kilt.

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Despite the Prince's reluctance, his father's Scottish tailor, John Sugden, owner of Campbell's of Beauly and holder of the Royal Warrant, said his company "would be happy" to tailor a kilt for William "should the opportunity arise". He added: "His father is a very keen wearer of Highland dress and a great supporter of Scottish traditions."

Beloved events

It is believed that the royals will continue their Balmoral holidays in much the same ways by enjoying long walks in the dramatic landscape, picnic lunches and barbecues. The late Prince Philip was said to be the master of the barbecue and in the last few years since his death, Prince Edward has reportedly now filled that role.

Royals' first Balmoral trip without Queen - Harry snub and venue changeCharles, Camilla and Princess Anne at the Braemar Highland Games last year (Getty Images)

As a way of marking the end of her stay at Balmoral each summer, the late Queen would hold the annual Ghillies Ball, where household staff would join the royals for a knees-up that includes Scottish country dancing. It was unknown if it would still go ahead this year under King Charles. But given the monarch is known to be a fan of learning and performing Scottish reels, the Daily Mail reports that the ball will go ahead this year, which has delighted Balmoral staff.

In addition, it is believed that Charles and Camilla will attend the annual Braemar Highland Games on September 2. Last year's Games were opened by Charles as his late mother was too ill to attend and he cut the heather rope to officially open the Games before he and Camilla took their seats in the Royal Pavilion to watch the events.

The day obviously proved to be a memorable one for the couple as several months later they used a photo taken of them at the Games as their 2022 Christmas card picture, which marked his first festive season as King.

Poignant anniversary

In years gone by, the late Queen would extend her Balmoral holiday right up until October, when she would return to London to commence her in-person duties once again. Many wondered whether Charles would do the same but it appears he does plan an extended stay in Scotland, which will see him mark a poignant anniversary there.

On September 8, it will be exactly a year since the former monarch died and he automatically became King. According to the Telegraph, he will spend the poignant day there in "quiet reflection", following a tradition set by the late Queen on her accession day each year. That's because she used to mark the death of her father King George VI at Sandringham, the place where he died on February 6, 1952.

Jennifer Newton

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