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Key moments in the history of the royals' Highland paradise Balmoral

Set by the River Dee in the shadows of Lochnagar is the magnificent Balmoral estate, which has been a royal retreat since 1848 when it was acquired by Queen Victoria.The Highland haven had a special place in the heart of the monarch, who on arriving there wrote: "All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils".Prince William and Kate Middleton have had some of their most romantic times, staying in an estate cottage called Tam-na-Ghar during their breaks from St Andrews University. 


Something in the air means the Queen and the rest of her family cast off the trappings of their status and really let their hair down. It's quite usual for visitors to see Prince Philip grilling sausages or his wife washing up with her bare hands after his barbecues. Picnics, home cinema evenings, games and bracing walks are laid on.Typical Scottish practices are adopted during their stay. Many members of the family including Prince Charles wear kilts and a resident bagpiper provides an early morning wake up call.

The convivial atmosphere makes for a relaxing stay for guests. Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, revealed in her autobiography that the couple's youngest son Leo was conceived there. With the sovereign in residence until September

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takes a look at the most memorable moments in the history of what Victoria referred to as her "paradise in the Highlands".