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Balmoral: The Queen's Summer Home

Balmoral, in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, is the Scottish home to the Royal family; I prefer calling it Liz's summer home because, well, she's super adorable and she has a serious crib for her summer home. We paid a visit here on our drive from Fort William to Ballater, our stay for the next three nights. The castle is only open from April to July, so we got lucky to get here on the last day it was open. Was Queen Elizabeth there??

As for Royal homes, I've been to Tower of London, Kensington Palace, and Hampton Court Palace. If I had to rank Balmoral, I'd put it behind Hampton Court Palace. There are quite a few similarities between the two, mostly due to the extensive gardens, which doesn't exist in near the scale at Tower of London nor Kensington Palace.

We had a couple of hours to spend here, so being the tourists we are, we went with the audio tour, always a favorite of mine so that I can listen and look without needing to read to much. I find I enjoy this way more. The first few stops on the tour covered:

  1. A brief history of the castle, focusing on the purchase of the property in 1852 by Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria.
  2. The improvements Prince Albert made to the property.
  3. The deer larder, basically where they process the deer that they kill every year as part of the deer control policy.
From the exhibition area you head down The Avenue of Conifers and if you peek to the right and walk off the path through the trees, you're treated with this spectacular view.

The tour winds down the road to the impressive vegetable garden. All of the vegetables are grown to be ready exactly when the Royal family comes for the summer.

The lettuce, cabbage, rocket, etc. ready to be eaten.

Massive onions! They are about the size of a softball.

The vegetable garden leads to the Conservatory and then Queen Mary's Garden, which reminded me the most of the gardens you see at Hampton Court. You're now standing facing the front of the castle.

Queen Mary's Garden

Making memories with Henry

We continued to follow our tour around the 50,000 acre estate, going past the Garden Cottage and the approach to the Castle.

Approach to Balmoral Castle

To the left of the castle is the sunken garden, again, much like those at Hampton Court. I can't help but wonder if the grounds here were inspired by King Henry VIII's home. Surely it was.

Sunken Gardens

The tour finished up with a visit to the Ballroom, a vast room designed to hold events and dinner parties. The Queen uses the ballroom often to entertain her guests. As we headed back out to the car, I notice the flag flying high above the castle.

That's the Royal Standard of Scotland, which means the Queen is in residence. And to think she didn't invite me in for tea. Well, if you read this Your Majesty, I'm available any time.


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