With Queen Elizabeth settling into her long holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, vacation plans for other members of the Windsor clan are coming together

Royals on holiday!

With Queen Elizabeth settling into her long vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, travel plans for other members of the Windsor clan are coming together.

For their first summer together as husband and wife, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have much of the coming weeks to themselves (following the wedding of Harry’s good friend Charlie van Straubenzee this weekend!).

The newlyweds will likely head to Scotland to join the Queen for a few days, as is customary for royal family members during the summer holiday. The Queen, 92, expects everyone to join in the festivities at some point before she heads back to London in early October.

It will be Meghan’s first visit to the estate since her wedding, and she will be expected to immerse herself in everything from outdoor picnics and barbecues to joining her husband hunting or stalking deer (an activity the animal-loving former actress may decline!). In Scotland, the rhythm of daily life is very different. Long walks in the heather amid the nibbling midges are also likely to be on the vacation to-do list, while inside the castle there are traditional parties and dances.

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There will be lots of outdoor fun, but Meghan won’t have to get her hands too dirty. At the loch-side barbecues, all the food and equipment is laid out by footmen who then are required to exit the scene so that a member of the family can take over as if they had done all the preparations (in the past it was always Prince Philip), according to Brian Hoey’s At Home With the Queen. At family picnics, the same footmen lay the tables and arrange the food, cutlery and china and then “move to a discreet distance where they can keep an eye on things and be within calling range if needed.”

“The Queen pours the tea but that is the extent of her culinary efforts.”

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Guests have spoken of the Queen’s motherly touch at Balmoral and how she looks out for those visiting. Kate Middleton said the Queen welcomes her children to her homes by leaving small gifts for them, while the monarch’s late cousin once told PEOPLE how her domestic responsibilities meant she might personally attend to the concerns of a staffer’s family.

Sometimes there are unwanted guests in the drafty castle. A footman who was interviewed for Hoey’s book said that they would have to fetch a net so the Queen could personally catch bats that had flown in and then release them. “She was very strict about them not being harmed. Of course, the next day they would all come back again and we would go through the same routine. I think she enjoyed it,” the source told Hoey.

Royalty - Queen and Family at Balmoral Castle
The royal family on the grounds of Balmoral
| Credit: PA Images/Getty Images
Charles, William, Harry And Dogs
Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry on the Balmoral estate
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the business of monarchy is never too far away. While the Queen has to keep up with the correspondence and official legal and government paperwork that arrives in red leather boxes, her grandson Prince William once used a late-summer vacation in Scotland to prepare for a new role.

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His father, Prince Charles, had a special sword delivered to his home Birkhall, on the estate, in September 2013, so that he could teach his son the rudiments of dubbing someone a knight — without having an accident with the glistening blade! William’s first investiture carried out on behalf of the Queen took place around this time.

For William and Kate and their three children, their summer has already started with a sunshine break in the Caribbean, when they visited Mustique with Kate’s parents — where they likely enjoyed tennis, scuba-diving and teaching the children to swim.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton with their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
| Credit: PA Images/Sipa

For the first time, their two oldest children, Prince George, 5, and Charlotte, 3, are both on a break from school until early September. So, their usual trip to Balmoral that often takes place in early September might have to come sooner. They are also likely to spend much of their time at their country home, Anmer Hall, rather than Kensington Palace in London, which is fringed by parks that are packed with tourists this time of year.

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Around Anmer in Norfolk, about 120 miles north of London, the family of five will live a more relaxed life, heading to the nearby beaches for fun in the sand, paddling or taking trips to local parks and cafes with mom Kate. The royal mom of three recently spoke of her love for the simple moments with her family.

“Spending quality time together is such an important aspect of family life and for me, as a mother, it is the simple family moments like playing outside together that I cherish,” she said.