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Balmoral: The castle with Queen Elizabeth II until the very end

Tucked in the Scottish countryside of Aberdeenshire is Balmoral Castle – a 500,000-acre country estate beloved by the Royal Family for nearly two centuries, particularly Queen Elizabeth II.

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Throughout her 96 years, she spent many summers at the castle, from visiting her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, to the final months of her life. Amid private family time, she hosted numerous garden parties and watched events at the nearby Braemar Highland Games with other members of the Royal Family.

Once the global health crisis began in 2020, Her Late Majesty spent many of the Duke of Edinburgh’s final years with him at Balmoral before his April 2021 death. They spent lockdown and their last wedding anniversary, their 73rd, there in November 2020.

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Balmoral Castle became the initial focus of the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997, as this is where the Royal Family was when she died. The Sunday morning after her death, The Queen, Princes Charles, William, and Harry attended a church service at the nearby Crathie Kirk.

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The Queen was known for her love of nature, and being at Balmoral allowed her to be close to it. She was seen taking time among horses or breeding her beloved corgis in the Scottish highlands. Not only was it a special environment, Balmoral became a place where the family would celebrate historic milestones. It was on the grounds in the summer of 1946 that Philip proposed to the then Princess Elizabeth. They spent their honeymoon on the estate at the Birkhall hunting lodge.

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While the castle holds many happy memories, it also holds sombre ones. Her Late Majesty was pictured meeting with then Prime Minister Liz Truss at the castle just two days before her death. Hours after appointing her 15th and final British prime minister, it was announced a virtual privy council meeting was postponed because of doctors’ orders.

From then, Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, and Sir Edward Young, The Queen’s private secretary, served as the main liaison between the palace and Downing Street. Case was informed and passed the message on to Truss that there was a distinct possibility The Queen’s condition could worsen rapidly.

If Windsor staff were unsure of how serious the situation was, The Queen’s helicopter departing from Windsor Castle to take the then Prince of Wales from Dumfries House in Ayrshire might have been a clue. After his arrival, several members of the Royal Family joined him in Scotland at The Queen’s side. On 8 September, Her Majesty passed away at her beloved Balmoral.

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On 11 September, Her Majesty’s coffin left Balmoral. It was accompanied by The Princess Royal and Sir Tim Laurence as the cortege made its way to the Palace of Holyrood House – the Edinburgh palace before The Queen made her final journey to London.

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About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.