The Queen will travel to Balmoral next week to begin her annual summer holiday, where she will also begin the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow on Wednesday with other members of the Royal Family.
Balmoral Castle, purchased by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria as a highland retreat, is one of two privately owned residences of The Queen (the other being Sandringham) and has been the Royal Family’s private retreat for generations with the holiday at Balmoral regarded as being one of the highlights of The Queen’s year.
This year, however, the annual holiday will be during an uncertain time for Scotland as Scots go to the polls in September to vote on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom, or whether to become an independent country. Though the model for independence says that The Queen would become Monarch of an independent Scotland, should the Scots choose independence.
During her stay in Scotland, The Queen’s number of engagements take a more relaxed pace, though she still undertakes a variety of visits and engagements usually around the Balmoral area and of course the famous red boxes with the business of state follow her everywhere.
Her Majesty will be in Scotland a little earlier this year as she goes to open the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on Wednesday joined by Prince Charles, Camilla (the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay) and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. The following day, The Queen and Duke will visit sites for the Commonwealth games.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles and Camilla will undertake their annual week of engagements in Scotland from Monday as they begin with a series of engagements around Edinburgh for the first few days.
Other members of the Royal Family will also visit Scotland during The Queen’s holiday as part of the Commonwealth games and will also stay at Balmoral too. Prince William and Kate (as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn) and Prince Harry will visit the Games on 28th and 29th, with other royals including the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Princess Royal visiting on the following days.
On 4th August, events will take place to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, with members of the Royal Family attending services around the UK on behalf of The Queen, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry paying a visit to Belgium. The Queen will attend a service at Crathie Parish church on Royal deeside where the Royal Family go on Sundays during the Balmoral break.
As usual, the Duke of Edinburgh is expected to join The Queen at Balmoral part way through August as he performs some engagements elsewhere around the UK and also spends some time at Sandringham. In September, the Duke will be making a visit to his old school Gordonstoun in Elgin whilst in residence at Balmoral.
It’s not known whether William and Kate will pay a visit along with Prince George to The Queen’s Scottish retreat.
The summer break also includes the annual Braemar gathering, held on the first Saturday of September which The Queen and other royals attend – the event includes a series of traditional Scottish games such as tossing the caber and also Highland dancing and bagpipes.
During the time The Queen spends in Balmoral, Buckingham Palace is opened to over half a million visitors for the annual summer opening where the Palace’s 16 state rooms are opened up to the public, a practice first begun in 1992.
Her Majesty returns at the beginning of October when the pace of engagements is returned up to Christmas. During the holiday, some members of the Royal Family prefer to take on more engagements before they take a break or join The Queen in September.