Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the summer residence of Elizabeth II, on Tuesday September 6, 2022, to officially hand in his resignation to the Queen. It is also there that the sovereign received Liz Truss, the new Prime Minister, to ask her to form a government. Here’s everything you need to know about Her Gracious Majesty’s iconic property.
The large castle bristling with towers is dominated by an imposing keep, which faces a huge park. The wooded hills of northeasternScotland rise in the background. This decor is that of Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Boris Johnsonthe outgoing Prime Minister, went on site Tuesday, September 6, 2022, to tender his resignation to the Sovereign. She was then to receive the new head of the British government, Liz Truss, asking him to form a government. A first: the fourteen Prime Ministers who have served so far under the reign of Elizabeth II have all been appointed to Londonthe capital, indicates the BBC, the British broadcaster. But at 96, the queen suffers from mobility problems and so she will not leave her iconic Scottish residence.
“Sanctuary for the Royal Family”
Balmoral has been in the British royal family since 1852. That year, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, acquired the property. There is a ” little “ castle, says the encyclopedia Britannia . But the prince decides to build a new residence: the one where the queen spends her summers today. The work was completed in 1856, the old property was demolished.
When the Queen died in 1901, the castle remains in the royal family, and is transmitted during the different successions, until Queen Elizabeth II. Today, Balmoral is the place where the queen spends her summers, which is considered her favorite residence, indicates the American magazine Town & Country .
It’s not just a castle: it’s also a huge property that stretches over more than 20,000 hectares, twice the area of the department of Paris ! Here there is farmland, moorland teeming with grouse, the Scottish capercaillie, herds of ponies, cattle or deer… This is indicated by the Guinness Book of Records which considers the place to be the largest inhabited area surrounding a castle in the world.
Traditionally, Elizabeth II spends her summers there, in what is a “sanctuary for the royal family”, according to the word of BBC.
“I think this is where Grandma is happiest”
“I think this is where Grandma is happiest,” said Princess Eugenie, one of the Queen’s granddaughters, in 2016, in remarks reported by the daily The Telegraph . And “she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else between the months of August and October”, according to journalist Camilla Tominey.
But Balmoral is not just a vacation spot. It is also traditionally the place where the Queen “really got to know the prime ministers” during weekends spent together, still indicates The Telegraph. And not all heads of government have enjoyed these visits to Scotland.
Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, compared homestays to a “purgatory”according to the word of the biographer of the queen Ben Pimlott, quoted by the daily The Guardian . Which specifies: « Autumn weekend in the Highlands [les hautes terres du nord du territoire, NdlR] Scotland is a non-negotiable appointment on the Prime Minister’s political agenda. »
According to the American magazine Vanity Fair the queen would pass a “Balmoral test”which would allow the Sovereign to determine whether these distinguished guests, politicians like others, “are able to adapt to his Scottish routine which is both regal and informal”. A test that stages several episodes of the series The Crown on Netflix, with Princess Diana or Margaret Thatcher, precisely…