It is said that after a delay due to the British elections, Queen Elizabeth has made her journey to Balmoral. The pilgrimage is an annual one for the Queen, who spends mid-July to October at her estate in the Scottish Highlands.
Unlike Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, which are owned by The Crown, Balmoral is a private residence for the Queen. Princess Eugenie spoke of her grandmother’s adoration of the area: “I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands.”
So what does Queen Elizabeth do at her version of the happiest place on earth?
First, she spends time with her family: The extended Windsor clan all decamps to Balmoral at some point during the summer. This year, it’s reported the Sussexes will make their first trip there as a family with baby Archie. (And there are even reports that the Queen will host a birthday tea for Meghan, who turns 38 on August 4th.) William, Kate, and their children are also expected to venture up to the Highlands, while Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have their own home, Birkhall, on the grounds.
Clocking at 50,000 acres, the land around Balmoral is sprawling. The Queen often drives through the moors in her Land Rover or explores via horseback. Eugenie added that a typical time at Balmoral involves “Walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs—there’s always dogs and people coming in and out all the time.” Fishing and hunting are common activities, and there’s a rumor that the Queen enjoys watching her servants catch the bats hanging in the castle’s rafters.
When it comes to meals, Prince Philip is known to be quite the grill master. Archival photos show him flipping meats alongside daughter Anne. A Balmoral housekeeper told BBC1 that the royal couple tag-teams these barbecues. “The Prince, he barbecues, and this is his design. They come out here themselves with their guests. There is no staff. He cooks, and the Queen sets up the table and serves the salad.”
The Queen also hosts the Ghillies Ball during her residency, a Scottish country dance that Balmoral’s staff and local community members attend.
Then there are the Highland Games, which take place the last week of September close to the castle. The Queen usually attends, along with other family members, to watch feats of strength and listen to the pipe bands.
And, if the reports are true, the Queen’s summer break couldn’t start at a better time: With a heat wave sweeping the U.K., the cool country air is much needed.
Originally Appeared on Vogue