Where is Balmoral? Inside the castle where Queen Elizabeth is staying amid grave fears for her health

The Queen has long enjoyed holidays at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, which is more than 800km from her main residence in London and is one of her favourite places to spend her time.

Balmoral is privately owned by the Queen and used as a holiday home at the end of every summer by her and senior members of the royal family.

Camera IconBalmoral Castle. Credit: Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library via Get

The castle is set on 20,000 hectares, 80km from Aberdeen near the village of Craithie.

The castle is set on 20,000 hectares.
Camera IconThe castle is set on 20,000 hectares. Credit: Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library via Get

It was built in 1852 by Queen Victoria and her husband Albert to accommodate their growing army of staff as well as countless visitors, including politicians.

Baby Prince Andrew perches on Prince Philip's lap during a picnic on the grounds of Balmoral Castle. Also pictured are Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne.
Camera IconBaby Prince Andrew perches on Prince Philip’s lap during a picnic on the grounds of Balmoral Castle. Also pictured are Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne. Credit: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Balmoral has been renovated several times by royals over the years but carries lasting memories of departed family members, including Prince Philip, who used the grounds to show off his gardening.

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One of the Duke of Edinburgh’s favourite features was a stunning water garden that remains on the property.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral, where Truss was be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. (Jane Barlow/Pool Photo via AP)
Camera IconThe Queen at Balmoral this week. Credit: Jane Barlow/AP

For the first time this week, the Queen appointed a Prime Minister at Balmoral, welcoming Boris Johnson’s replacement Liz Truss.

The entrance to Balmoral.
Camera IconThe entrance to Balmoral. Credit: Andrew Milligan/AP

The decision by her to formally receive a Prime Minister in Scotland, rather than at Buckingham Palace, was made due to her ailing health and one of the first recent signs her majesty’s condition was seriously deteriorating.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Queen Elizabeth greets newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss as she arrives at Balmoral Castle for an audience where she will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government on September 6, 2022 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Queen broke with the tradition of meeting the new prime minister and Buckingham Palace, after needing to remain at Balmoral Castle due to mobility issues. (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camera IconThe Queen receives new Prime Minister Liz Truss. Credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images

While little is known about what exactly goes on in the sprawling grounds of Balmoral, a few notable visitors and members of the royal family have offered fascinating insights into the Queen’s annual holiday.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie were invited to stay with the royals at Balmoral. Mr Blair told how, during the 1998 visit, Prince Philip manned the barbecue and the Queen even get stuck into the dishes after dinner.

FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral, in Scotland, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, where Truss was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II is under medical supervision as doctors are “concerned for Her Majesty’s health.†The announcement comes a day after the 96-year-old monarch canceled a meeting of her Privy Council and was told to rest.(Jane Barlow/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Camera IconThe Queen in the drawing room at Balmoral. Credit: Jane Barlow/AP

“You think I’m joking, but I’m not. They put the gloves on and stick their hands in the sink. The Queen asks if you’ve finished, she stacks the plates up and goes off to the sink,” he told in his autobiography.

The Queen once described Balmoral as her “paradise in the highlands”.

Princess Eugenie has also spoken fondly about the Queen’s holiday home, describing it as “the most beautiful place in the world”.

“I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands,” she said.

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