EACH year the Royal Family heads to the Scottish retreat of Balmoral to “let their hair down” away from the public – and this year is no different.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to take Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis later this week to join King Charles.
This year will be bittersweet for the family, as it’s their first summer visit following the late Queen passing away there in September.
But Balmoral offers numerous activities to keep royals, including George, Charlotte and Louis, busy during their break…
At one with nature
According to Princess Eugenie, a typical Balmoral day involves "walks, picnics and a lot of dogs".
Since the days of Queen Victoria, British royals have found peace there – and love a barbecue surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of the 52,000-acre Scottish estate.
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Balmoral also has a number of sports on offer, with hunting grouse and fly fishing being much-loved group activities at the summer retreat.
There is even nature inside the castle, with The Sun previously revealing that Balmoral is full of bats – and the Queen used to help servants catch them with nets.
The ballroom of the large Aberdeenshire estate is believed to be home to a colony of pipistrelle bats that nest in the rafters.
The Balmoral break gives the royals the chance for some very informal fun away from their royal duties.
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Kate even admitted that Prince Louis especially loves playing games there.
The royal mum-of-three told Australia's Governor General David Hurley that her youngest child asked if they can still take place after the Queen’s death.
David revealed Kate said: "The younger one is now asking questions like, 'do you think we can still play these games when we go to Balmoral and things like that, cause she's not going to be there?'"
The royals also love playing pranks, particularly one lunchtime joke started by the late Prince Philip.
Prince William previously revealed: "Instead of like a mustard pot we'd have a mustard tube, a squeezy mustard tube.
"And then he'd squish your hands together to fire the mustard onto the ceiling.
“He used to get in a lot of trouble from my grandmother for covering most of the places we had lunch and things with mustard on the ceiling."
The royals have a team of chefs to prepare meals each day as you’d imagine, but they are also said to enjoy indulging in a local takeaway from time to time at Balmoral too.
A royal source told Fabulous that the Queen used to treat herself to fish and chips when at Balmoral.
They revealed: “A footman is dispatched to get it from the local town of Ballater.”
King Charles and Prince William are said to love pizza or Chinese.
Prince William also enjoys Nando's and, according to Hello!, told co-founder Robert Brozin he was the chain's "biggest fan" after being introduced to it by his police protection officer.
And in an interview with BBC Radio One in 2017, Kate admitted that she was partial to a curry for dinner.
And of course, tea is a big part of Balmoral life, with Charles telling a guest at a party in Scotland: “In our family everything stops for tea. I have never known a family so addicted to it.”
Kate and William’s secret home
The Prince and Princess of Wales reportedly have a secret home in Balmoral that is largely unknown to royal fans.
The family regularly stay at the Tam-Na-Ghar cottage, which is concealed on the grounds of the Scottish estate, during their visit.
It was given to William by his late great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, shortly before she passed away in 2002.
The modest dwelling has just three bedrooms but has fond memories for the royal couple.
According to Hello!, William first used the country pad while he was a student at nearby St Andrews University, and frequently took then-girlfriend Kate on getaways there.
While Balmoral offers the family the chance to step out of the public eye, Kate was given permission by the Queen to bring her camera during an early visit.
And some of the family’s most treasured snaps have been taken there by Kate.
One of the most poignant recent ones was a photo of the late monarch surrounded by some of her great-grandchildren.
The picture was released to commemorate what would have been her 97th birthday in April.
Balmoral has played a poignant role in William's life and it is where he had some of his happiest – but also saddest – childhood memories.
He was staying at the Scottish castle with Prince Harry in 1997 when they learned the devastating news that their mother Princess Diana had died.
Last year they both flew there on the day the Queen died too.
Royal author Juliet Rieden claimed that Balmoral is where the royals enjoy a "normal existence" and even the Queen was even said to help her staff with the washing up.
Speaking to Nine News, Juliet said: “When they are out having their barbecues, which they love to do out in the grounds of Balmoral – it’s a massive estate, the most beautiful grounds – where they literally set up a barbecue.
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"And afterward the Queen does the washing up."
Margaret Thatcher was so shocked at witnessing the Queen doing the washing up with bare hands that she is said to have sent her a pair of rubber gloves.
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