The Surprising Place Where Queen Elizabeth II Is “Most Happy”

Hint: It's not anywhere near London!

queen elizabethDAVID HARTLEY/Shutterstock

It’s no secret that Queen Elizabeth II spends a lot of time in some very luxurious places. From Buckingham Palace, with its 775 opulent rooms, to Windsor Castle, where she usually spends her weekends, Her Majesty’s haunts are some of the most impressive dwellings in the world. But the place where she’s happiest is not one of the places people might most commonly associate with her. In fact, it’s not even in England. It’s Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s holiday home located in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Find out some more British royal family travel secrets you never knew.

Balmoral Castle is a stately Scottish Baronial mansion situated on a 50,000-acre estate. It’s pretty unique among royal residences in that it’s actually owned by the royal family, rather than being the property of the Crown Estate. The only other royal dwelling that’s like this is Sandringham House in Norfolk.

The royal family’s connection with Balmoral dates back to the 19th century. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased a home there in 1852… and then promptly oversaw construction of an even bigger home. Upon its completion in 1856, the smaller castle was torn down, leaving the castle that remains today.

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Fast-forward to present day, and the current monarch summers there every year. While still, of course, a castle, Balmoral is considerably less opulent than Buckingham or Windsor, and the royals use their time there to unwind and take a break from some of the pressures of royal life. Queen Elizabeth II has been photographed there doing everything from horseback riding to taking joyrides in a Range Rover. Check out some more candid, rarely seen photos of the royal family.

And, even though she goes every year, it seems the Queen never tires of it. Her granddaughter Princess Eugenie, in the 2016 documentary Our Queen At Ninety, said that “Granny is the most happy there.” The Telegraph also referred to it as “the Queen’s favorite home,” saying that Balmoral offers the royals “the sort of privacy and seclusion they are denied in the royal palaces.”

If you think seeing a place like that in person sounds like a dream, you’re in luck—Balmoral Castle actually does offer tours! While it’s off-limits to the public when the royals are visiting, you actually can take a tour of the home between April and July. So if you’re ever heading to the British Isles around that time, consider taking a holiday fit for a queen! Read on to find out some more surprising facts even royal fanatics may not know about Queen Elizabeth II.

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Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.