Inside the Queen's Balmoral Photo Album
With its 50,000 acres of misty moors, vast lochs, and wide open spaces, it's no wonder that the queen's Scottish Highlands residence, Balmoral, is one of her favorite places to be. Every Summer without fail, her majesty heads north for a couple of months, and her family all come and visit while she's in residence — but what do they get up to when they're there? Over the decades, an intriguing stash of photos have amassed, showing insight into the lives of the queen and her loved ones at their least guarded — and proving it has been the backdrop for some very intimate family moments.
The royal family circa 1972
The queen is wearing a kilt made of the royal tartan. Woven in gray and purple, it's inspired by the granite and heather of the local surroundings.
A hug from Charles for his cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones
Charles loves the area so much he wrote the children's book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, about it.
Harry and Diana on the banks of the River Dee
As small boys, William and Harry would take out sailboats out onto the river.
Prince George enjoys a simple rope and plank swing
As children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne enjoyed a similar swing at Balmoral.
Princess Anne often helped her father Prince Philip run the BBQ
The meat used is often produced on the estate.
Prince Harry and Zara Phillips
The young cousins often visited the sweet shop on the estate.
The queen with Princess Anne and Prince Charles
In 1952, the year the queen acceded to the throne.
"One lives here"
The castle and grounds in all their glory.
Prince Philip on the River Dee in 1970
Trout and salmon are the main fish to be caught.
. . . And again over two decades years later in 1993
Prince Philip continues to fish in his 90s.
Prince Charles is also a skilled fisherman
The prince is Patron of the Salmon and Trout Association.
Diana learning to fish shortly before her marriage in 1981
The princess-to-be was taught by one of the estate's groundskeepers.
Charles and Diana spent some of their honeymoon in Balmoral
Exactly one year earlier, it was also where it became public knowledge that the pair were in a relationship.
A young Princess Anne was unimpressed by the presence of a photographer
The family was captured in a set of images in 1957.
William playing fetch with his childhood dog Widgeon
This picture was taken just a month before the death of his mother in 1997.
Prince Philip, the queen mother, and the queen at the annual Ghillies Ball
The Ghillies Ball is one of the highlights of the Summer — the queen hosts the event for her Highland staff and best-known locals.
The queen mother and Princess Margaret
With her Aug. 21 birthday, Princess Margaret spent many of her special days at Balmoral.
The queen in diamonds and tartan
Her majesty often dances a few Scottish reels with her staff and her neighbors.
Charles, Harry, and William on the property
Members of the public can explore the grounds themselves from April 1 to July 31 every year.
Prince Harry at Muick Falls
Harry grew up exploring the vast estate every Summer with his brother and cousins.
Charles and Camilla
The royal couple honeymooned at Balmoral in 2005 and returned for their one-year anniversary. Seen here going to a church service at Crathie Kirk on the grounds, both in the royal tartan.
King George Vl, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Margaret, and Queen Elizabeth
As a young boy, Prince Charles rode a deer statue at the property, watched by members of his family, including his grandfather, the king.
The Queen and Prince Charles
The queen was dressed immaculately for a set of official photographs, but can usually be spotted at the property in kilt, walking boots, and a knotted headscarf.
Her majesty owns around 100 Highland cattle
There are also deer, grouse, and ponies on the estate.
Prince Charles and Prince Harry
Much of the living at Balmoral is done outside.
Charles often indulges in his favorite pasttimes of painting and drawing
Over the years, prints of his water colors have raised £6 million for charity.
Charles, William, and Harry at the River Dee
The young princes would play hide and seek with their father in the grounds.
Charles and Diana in 1981 as newlyweds
The new royal couple spent six weeks at Balmoral as a kind of extended honeymoon.
On the banks of the River Dee in 1997.
In the documentary filmed to mark the queen's 90th birthday this year, Princess Eugenie said that the queen is at her happiest at Balmoral.