the queen balmoral

Former royal aide reveals why the Queen's summer holidays in Balmoral are so special

The Duchess of Sussex is yet to make a visit!

Sharnaz Shahid

It's a well-known tradition for the Queen to spend her summer holiday at Balmoral Castle, where she is joined by other members of the royal family. The 92-year-old monarch, who has been visiting her Scottish residence since she was a young child, fills her time up with various activities including; picnics by the River Dee, deer stalking and long walks. Speaking with her former press secretary Dickie Arbiter, it seems the place is "home from home" for the Queen. "She has been going there regularly from the middle to the end of July right through to the beginning of October since she came to the throne," Dickie told HELLO!. "It's just home from home, a place where she can just get away from it all, putting her feet up and give her the chance to just enjoy two months of holiday."

The Queen spends every summer at Balmoral

When asked why the Queen prefers to reside at Balmoral Castle over the summer, the 78-year-old explained: "Traditionally the family has always gone to Sandringham at Christmas. It's close to London where she does occasions almost right up to Christmas. She wants to be at Sandringham for the beginning of February, which is the anniversary of the death of her father. So Sandringham has always been the traditional place to go for Christmas until New Year." He added: "Although, having said that, at one stage Windsor Castle was Christmas because it was big enough to take the whole family. But since the fire in 1992, Christmas and New Year – particularly Christmas – it has been in Sandringham. Sandringham is always winter and Balmoral is always summer."

MORE: A closer look at the Queen's favourite summer retreat

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And the Queen is rarely alone, since her grandsons - Prince William and Prince Harry - and the Duchess of Cambridge tend to pay a trip to Scotland - depending on their commitments. "They are regular visitors – all of them," shared Dickie. "Providing they are actually in the country, they will go up to Balmoral for a week or for a few days." However, new royal Meghan Markle, is yet to make a visit there. "The Duchess of Sussex hasn't been up there yet, because she has only been in the royal scene since May," explained Dickie. "But Harry has been up there frequently. It's a regular holiday spot. They go maybe for a few days, a week or even ten days - it depends on what their other commitments are."

When it comes to filling up their time, it seems the royal family like to indulge in various outdoor activities. "They do a lot of stalking, which involves a lot of walking," revealed the royal author. "They have picnics at log cabins by the River Dee. They do what other people do when they go away to the country when they are on holiday. There's no sea there, so obviously there's no beach but they just do what other people do when they come on holiday. People go to holiday in the Cotswolds and the Brecon Beacons - they do similar sorts of things."

MORE: Why the royals love spending time at Balmoral

Apart from the Cambridges, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who also have a mansion on the Balmoral estate, other royals, who visit the Queen, include Prince Andrew, his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. In past years, Kate's parents Carole and Michael Middleton have been guests of Prince Charles at his mansion, Birkhall. Meanwhile, royal watchers can catch a glimpse of the Queen when she attends Sunday church at nearby Crathie Kirk. This summer, she has been pictured attending with a lady-in-waiting, and her granddaughters Princess Beatrice and Lady Louise Windsor.

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