Inside Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's Romantic Connection to Balmoral Castle

·3 min read
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday on Wednesday.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday on Wednesday.

Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

From their engagement to Her Majesty's death, Balmoral Castle has served as a sentimental and romantic place for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

On Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced in a statement that Queen Elizabeth "died peacefully at Balmoral." She was 96

For decades, Balmoral held a special place in Queen Elizabeth's life — from her childhood to her decades-long relationship with Prince Philip, who died at 99 years old in April 2021.

"Balmoral has always been a place of rejuvenation and reflection," the Queen's biographer Sally Bedell Smith previously told PEOPLE. "She has been going there since she was a baby. It's where Prince Philip proposed and where she had her honeymoon. It's a place bursting with memories."

26th September 1976: Queen Elizabeth II with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Balmoral.
26th September 1976: Queen Elizabeth II with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Balmoral.

Hulton Archive/Getty

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The stunning Scottish hideaway has been in the family since 1845 when Prince Albert purchased the castle and sweeping estate.

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In the summer of 1946, a young Prince Philip spent several weeks at Balmoral and reportedly proposed there. Elizabeth's father King George VI agreed to the union, and the couple's joy was palpable.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Balmoral, Scotland, 1972
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Balmoral, Scotland, 1972

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty

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"I am sure I do not deserve all the good things which have happened to me," Philip wrote to his bride at the time. "To have been spared in the war and seen victory … to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one's personal and even the world's troubles seem small and petty."

The two would go on to enjoy their honeymoon at Balmoral after tying the knot in November 1947.

After welcoming four children – King Charles III, 73, Princess Anne, 72, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Edward, 58 –  Balmoral was a staple getaway for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and their whole family –corgis and dorgis included!

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The Queen traditionally retreated to the home every August. This year, she traveled there from her residence in Windsor at the end of July.

On Tuesday, just two days before her death, the Queen appointed the new prime minister of the United Kingdom at Balmoral for the first time in her 70-year reign. In a photo from the meeting, the monarch was all smiles before a crackling fireplace.

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When the family is not in residence, the castle is open to the public and it's even possible to book a stay on the estate, arranged via the website.

The news of Queen Elizabeth's death comes with another history-making moment: She is succeeded immediately by her eldest son, King Charles III, who will now be the monarch. Charles' eldest son, Prince William, 40, is now next in line to the world's most famous throne, followed by his firstborn son, Prince George, 9. Her death follows her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, who died at age 99 in June 2021.