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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joins royals at church near Balmoral ahead of sad anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II died at the Scottish estate last September

King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend divine service at Crathie Church, Balmoral on September 3, 2023
Diane Shipley
Diane ShipleySenior Online Writer
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King Charles is currently spending his summer break at Balmoral alongside Queen Camilla and other members of the royal family, including a recent visit by the Prince and Princess of Wales

On Sunday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak headed to the monarch's Scottish home, where he was driven to Crathie Kirk church to attend the service alongside the King and Queen. 

The PM is spending the weekend with the royal couple as well as the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, who also attended the church service. 

WATCH: Royal summer holidays - where the Windsors love to travel

The King wore a beautiful kilt, while his wife looked incredibly stylish in a green coat and hat and held a beige handbag on her lap. Rishi Sunak and his wife were driven to the 19th-century parish church in a separate car, as were Princess Anne and her husband. 

The Prime Minister's stay in Scotland is a long-running custom started by Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who extended her hospitality to many prime ministers during her reign, including Tony Blair, David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends divine service at Crathie Church, Balmoral © Getty
The Prime Minister joined the royals at Balmoral

The break comes just before the PM prepares for the return of Parliament on Monday following the summer recess. It's also just a few days before the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's death on Friday, 8 September. 

She died at Balmoral, which was widely believed to be her favourite residence and was where she spent a significant amount of time every summer. 

King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend service at Crathie Church, Balmoral© Getty
King Charles, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence at Crathie Church

With copious amounts of green space, horse riding, fishing, barbecues, picnics and sunshine galore, it's no wonder the royals love taking their children to Balmoral Castle for the final instalment of summer before royal duties and school resumes in September. 

From the late Queen's Balmoral playdates with her late sister Princess Margaret, to King Charles and Princess Anne's barbecues with their late father Prince Philip, it holds many happy memories for the family

King Charles III wearing a kilt and getting out of the car at Crathie Church, Balmoral on September 3, 2023 © Getty
The King was all smiles on Sunday

King Charles and Queen Camilla have kept the tradition alive, welcoming their first guests to the Castle on the 50,000-acre estate on 21 August.

LOOK BACK: The Queen's obituary: Her Majesty's extraordinary life of service

READ: Is this the real reason Prince Harry and Meghan Markle won't be at Balmoral?

According to ITV News' Royal Editor Chris Ship, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank were the first to arrive in Scotland with their children, two-year-old August and baby Ernest, while Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and their family were also seen. 

Queen Camilla smiling as she walks into church at  Balmoral on September 3, 2023© Getty
Queen Camilla wore a gorgeous autumnal green outfit

Following the late Queen's death, the estate's official social media account shared a stunning photo of the property. Bathed in heavenly light, with storm clouds passing overhead, the atmospheric photo was captioned: "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow." 

Followers rushed to pay their respects, and admire the imposing property, writing: "Hard day. She cannot be summarised, only emulated if we dare try. This woman's demeanour held the world together." Another mourner wrote: "Thoughts are with all at the castle. Great sadness."

Princess Anne standing outside the service at Crathie Church, Balmoral on September 3, 2023© Getty
Princess Anne went for a bold red as she joined her brother at church

Balmoral was filled with the royal family at the time, with the Queen's four children, then-Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew, all travelling there to be by their mother's side. 

The now-Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince William visited too, along with Prince Harry, the majority flying together from London.

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