A rare glimpse of the royal family s summer fun in the Scottish highlands

By Erin Hill
Updated August 06, 2015 09:30 AM
Credit: Keystone-FranceGamma-RaphoGetty

Even royals need a little R&R!

The dog days of summer have settled in, which means that Queen Elizabeth has retreated to her Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle, for her annual two-month holiday in Aberdeenshire.

The Queen has been spending summers in the Scottish highlands ever since she was a young princess visiting the grand estate with her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I.

She and Prince Philip continued to make memories there with their own four children (and of course, the Queen s beloved corgis!).

In this rare and candid photo from 1955, a smiling Prince Philip gives young Prince Charles and little sister Princess Anne a push on a swing while mum happily looks on.

The picturesque castle, which sits on 50,000 acres, has been in the royal family since 1852, when the estate was purchased by Prince Albert for his wife, Queen Victoria.

The royal Scottish retreat has played a special role in Prince William and Princess Kate‘s relationship as well. During college, Will would whisk Kate away for romantic weekends to Tam-na-Ghar, the three-bedroom cottage on the castle grounds given to him by his grandmother. Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, were even spotted shooting at Birkhall, Prince Charles’s nearby home.

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And when you re planning next summer’s big family vacation, think Balmoral! The castle gardens have been open to the public since 1931. They re now open daily between April and the end of July, when the Queen arrives for her stay.

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