A version of this story appeared in the July 15 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
As summer reaches its height in the UK and Europe, millions of people are heading off on vacation or taking some time away from work to catch up with friends and relatives.
And that includes the royals. July and August are typically quiet months in the royal calendar, as members of the clan take a break from their heavy schedule of public duties.
Suddenly, the jetsetting and hectic timetable of public appearances, speeches and royal tours stops – and members go off-grid.
But how easy is it for the royal family to truly get away from it all – and what happens on a royal holiday?
The most famous vacation destination for the royals is Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the Queen spends her summers and where numerous family get-togethers have taken place.
While at Balmoral, the monarch has been pictured enjoying country walks, riding horses and hosting picnics with her family. “It’s the most beautiful place on earth … and I think Granny is most happy there,” Princess Eugenie said in a 2016 ITV documentary.
But royals also look to go further afield. The Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, spent long holidays on Mustique, an island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.
Her connection with the island began in 1960 when she saw it while cruising the Caribbean on the royal yacht, Britannia. Its owner, Colin Tennant, gave her a 10-acre plot as a wedding present, and she later used her island villa as a retreat from the glare of the media and to host parties in the company of celebrities.
Many royals have also been partial to a cold weather retreat. Prince Philip took his children Princess Anne and Prince Charles on a skiing trip to Liechtenstein in 1965, and Diana, Princess of Wales regularly treated her boys William and Harry to some adventures on the slopes.
And sometimes, romance flourishes during royal getaways. When Prince Harry introduced Meghan Markle as his fiancée in 2017, he told reporters about their romantic trip to Botswana, where they camped under the stars, away from prying eyes.
That visit was clearly an important one for the couple. Their time in the country was even represented on Meghan’s engagement ring, which featured a diamond from the southern African nation.
Harry’s romantic story is not dissimilar to that of his brother, William, who proposed to Kate Middleton during a getaway at a log cabin in the shadow of Mount Kenya. The couple got engaged while staying at a rustic hideaway near a sprawling animal reserve where rhinos and giraffes roam freely.
With so many memories made while privately touring the world, it’s little wonder the royals cherish their holidays as much as the rest of us.
Last December, William and Kate released a photo from their family trip to Jordan. We don’t yet know where the royals are heading for their vacations this year, but after a busy period over the Queen’s Jubilee weekend last month, there’s no doubt they’ll enjoy setting up their out-of-office emails.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Queen hails vaccine rollout.
The Queen has dubbed the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout “amazing,” as she paid tribute to the National Health Service (NHS) by awarding the institution the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian honor. The monarch welcomed representatives from the state-funded service, including nurse May Parsons, who administered the world’s first non-trial Covid vaccine in late 2020. “You’re still alive?” the monarch joked to Parsons after hearing about her role in medical history. The Queen followed up that engagement with a surprise visit to open a new hospice building in Maidenhead, near Windsor on Friday. “Typical, a phone goes off immediately,” the Queen laughed when a member of the group introducing the monarch got a call during her appearance.
Bombshell Prince Andrew interview set for big screen.
The story behind a landmark TV interview that destroyed Prince Andrew’s reputation is set to be dramatized in a movie, it was confirmed Thursday. The Duke of York spoke to the BBC’s “Newsnight” program in 2019 about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and his uncomfortable performance was swiftly savaged by British media outlets and the public. Its producer, Sam McAlister, whose book “Scoops” is being adapted into movie form, told CNN “it’s hard to believe, even almost three years later, that this momentous interview ever happened.” During the conversation, Andrew claimed he could not sweat and described Epstein’s sexual abuse as “unbecoming.” “As I sat 15 feet behind Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace I could not believe what he said on camera,” McAlister said.
It’s been a busy week for Britain’s future Queen Consort, who’s preparing to turn 75 on Sunday.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall has been in the spotlight for days in the run-up to her milestone birthday – she guest-edited a special edition of Country Life magazine last week and attended a birthday lunch hosted by the Oldie magazine in London on Tuesday.
“You might not believe it, but I have actually been trying to keep quiet about reaching three-quarters of a century – and, as you see, have failed dismally,” Camilla joked at the event.
She has balanced the festivities with a full diary of royal engagements. On Thursday, she visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London, where she got a big welcome from a four-legged resident and urged Britons to “find a friend for life.”
Last week we explored how Camilla’s public role has increased in recent months as she prepares to stand by the side of her husband and the country’s next King, Charles.
The fanfare over her 75th only accelerates that shift – while also allowing her to bask in a wave of goodwill.
The poet Roger McGough even crafted a special work for the duchess’ birthday, which tells her: “Yours are the days ma’am, with the promise of many more ahead. So carpe diem, but gently, for that way they last longer. And don’t count them, just be grateful.”
She seemed to take that advice while delivering her speech to the Oldie get-together, in which she described Prince Philip’s philosophy as “Look up and look out, say less, do more – and get on with the job.”
“I know that our minds, if not our bodies, will soon be whizzing round that metaphorical dance floor,” Camilla added.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Charles and Camilla met with members at the Tabernacle performing arts center, to celebrate the return of London’s Notting Hill Carnival later this summer. The festival, which is organized by members of the city’s Afro-Caribbean community, is returning in August after three years away due to the pandemic.
Correction: An emailed version of this newsletter incorrectly stated when the Duchess of Cornwall visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. She went there on Friday.
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