For Elizabeth, the Balmoral estate was a place to “be normal”.

For Elizabeth, the Balmoral estate was a place to "be normal".
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LONDON (AP) – The hearse carrying the body of Queen Elizabeth II He withdrew from the gates of Balmoral Castle on Sunday it marked the monarch’s final departure from the private sanctuary, where she can shed the straitjacket of protocol and ceremony for several weeks each year.

The sprawling estate in the Scottish Highlands west of Aberdeen was a place where Elizabeth rode her beloved horses, went for walks and took her children around the grounds in tricycles and carriages, shrugging off the formalities of Buckingham Palace.

“… when he walks through the (Balmoral) gates, I believe the royal part of him mostly stays outside,” said the Rev. David Barr, of Glenmuick parish in nearby Ballater. “And once she got in, she was able to be a wife, a loving wife, a loving mother, a loving grandmother, and then a loving great-grandmother and aunt, and she was able to be normal.”

It was a transformation that took place every summer, with the royal family spending most of August and September at the property, which had been a royal den since 1852 when Prince Albert bought it for his wife, Queen Victoria.

Balmoral is the family’s “private wilderness”, where a fleet of immaculate Land Rovers will pick up guests each morning during the shooting and chasing season, wrote Jonathan Dimbleby in his 1994 biography of Prince Charles, who became King Charles after his mother’s death.

But there were other attractions.

“In the stables the Queen’s horses were ready again, the coats groomed, the saddles and bridles soaped and the stirrups polished,” wrote Dimbleby. “Domestic servants, trained in holy thought, appeared only when called upon, knowing that to be seen or heard without purpose would be an intrusion.”

At Balmoral, a woman remembered for wearing gowns and tiaras or granny dresses and wide-brimmed hats might tie a scarf around her head, tuck into a warm jacket and pull on a pair of boots. pine forests inhabited by deer, bees and butterflies.

This sense of informality can bring out the queen’s mischievous side.

Richard Griffin, a former royal security officer, recalled accompanying the queen on a picnic when she met two American hikers. The tourists did not recognize Elizabeth and asked how long she had been in the area. He was asked if he had met the queen when he replied, “Over 80 years.”

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Griffin told Sky News earlier this year during events marking the monarch’s 70 years on the throne: “For a moment he says, ‘Well, not me, but Dickie meets him here regularly,'” Griffin told Sky News earlier this year.

One of the walkers then turned to Griffin and asked how the queen was doing. He replied: “He can be very angry at times, but he has a great sense of humor.”

After taking pictures with the Queen, the unsuspecting hikers waved goodbye and continued their journey.

“Then His Majesty said to me, ‘I would like to be a fly on the wall when I show those photographs to my friends in America.’ Hopefully, someone will tell him who I am,” Griffin recalled.

The Queen’s love of Balmoral underscored her close ties to Scotland, which began with her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who started the royal family’s tradition of wearing tartan.

During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the Queen was said to be hoping for a ‘no’ vote, despite being unable to express her opinion publicly. Former Prime Minister David Cameron later confirmed this, telling how her husband, the late Prince Philip, tried to keep the peace at Balmoral by trying to hide the morning papers on the day a poll was published that suggested Scots could vote to leave the government. Great Britain

“But, of course, when he got the result, he purred like a cat with delight when he heard that Great Britain would remain united,” royal historian Robert Lacey told the BBC on Friday.

But in reality, Balmoral was a family home for the queen.

Elizabeth and Philip, temporarily freed from government duties, spent more time with their children while at Balmoral.

Home movies shared with the BBC for the Queen’s 90th birthday documentary showed the couple playing with Charles and his sister Anne on the lawn outside Balmoral Castle, with Philip looking down a grassy slope in a little red carriage before it overturned. kilt flying in the breeze.

In later years, Charles played table tennis and football in the yard and was allowed to cycle to the village shop, even with a police officer behind him, Dimbleby wrote.

The Queen’s death in Scotland is “very significant,” Lacey told The Associated Press.

“Because apart from his love for this country, it was the countryside that kept him in touch with nature,” he said.


For more AP coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the British royal family:

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