The smell of the heather, the sight of magnificent stags among the herds of deer . . . and the pesky midges.
Welcome to the Highlands of Scotland in the summer, where Queen Elizabeth is set for her annual break.
She has left Buckingham Palace to the tourists, who can get a peek inside its grand halls starting July 25, and is beginning her holiday in Scotland, which will last until early October.
But with the main Balmoral castle still open for visitors, the 89-year-old monarch is quietly staying elsewhere on the estate, most likely Craigowan Lodge, a secluded spot where she enjoys the peace before she arrives “officially” in early August.
And before she moves in, the BBC will be on the estate, filming an edition of Antiques Roadshow.
Sadly, for royals fans who might be in attendance, neither the Queen nor her husband, Prince Philip, is expected to pop in to watch the filming. (The couple did take part in a special edition of the show in Northern Ireland several years ago.)
In the highlands, the royals like to entertain friends, hold dances, picnic and go on shooting parties – all the while battling the nibbling little flies that stalk the heather-covered mountain sides.
But it’s not all play for the Queen while she’s away: She does continue to work, reading her diplomatic papers in the famous “red boxes” that are delivered daily. She also will meet visiting foreign dignitaries and British politicians, such as the Prime Minister, who heads up once a year.
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“It’s almost a royal command that you go up there,” says Majesty magazine’s editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward.
The home had a starring role (along with a beautiful stag) in the 2006 film The Queen starring Helen Mirren, as most of the royals were there when the dreadful news that Princess Diana had died in a car crash in Paris was relayed to them August 31, 1997.
The Queen will head south again on August 15 for the British commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Japan.
She will also be there when she passes Queen Victoria’s historic record of longevity on the throne in early September.
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