6 things you may not know about the Queen’s favourite summer retreat, Balmoral castle

It's said to be the home where the Queen is "the most happy".

Like most summers, the Queen is currently holidaying at her much-loved home in the Scottish Highlands, Balmoral Castle, with her husband The Duke of Edinburgh.
Balmoral has long been known to be Her Majesty's favourite residence, with her granddaughter Princess Eugenie, 29, previously revealing it's where Queen Elizabeth is "the most happy".
Speaking in the documentary Our Queen at Ninety, Eugenie shared: "Walks, picnics, dogs – a lot of dogs, there's always dogs – and people coming in and out all the time.
"It's a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa, for us to come and see them up there; where you just have room to breathe and run."
Adding: "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there.
"I think she really, really loves the Highlands."
With a source adding the monarch "loves Scotland – it has always been a great comfort to her, where she is happiest and most relaxed."
The Queen and Philip spent many summers with their family at Balmoral Castle. Here they're pictured with Prince Andrew (L) and Prince Edward (R) and all their dogs. (Image: Getty)
Indeed, Balmoral is where the Queen can let her hair down, and she is often seen driving herself across the estate and is said to enjoy hosting her family on picnics or shooting parties around the property - this year alone she's already hosted Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Andrew and his daughters along with Prince Edward and his family-of-four.
Most recently The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited with their three children Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1, who were no doubt eager to play with their cousins Savannah, 8, and Isla Phillips, 7, who were also visiting their great-grandparents with their parents Peter and Autumn Phillips.
So why is the Queen and the royal family so enamoured with this slice of the Scottish Highlands? Here are six things you may not have known about their beloved summer retreat.
The Queen's holiday home is where she lets her hair down and wears trousers. Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral in 1972. (Image: Getty)

1. The Windsor Family own Balmoral Castle, unlike some others

Unlike Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, which are owned by the Crown and funded by taxpayers, Balmoral is the property of the royal family.
Originally bought in 1852 by Prince Albert for his wife Queen Victoria, it has been passed down to successive monarchs ever since. When King Edward VII abdicated in 1936, he still officially owned Balmoral (and Sandringham, which is another estate owned by the royal family), which he inherited after the death of his father George V.
Therefore Queen Elizabeth's father King George VI had to buy the two properties from him to keep them in the family.

2. The current castle is not the original one

According to the Architectural Digest a Scottish courtier called Sir Robert Gordon demolished almost the entirety of the original building – which had been around since the 15th century – and build a new, smaller one in 1830.
In the 1850s, when Prince Albert purchased the property, Queen Elizabeth hired the city of Arberdeen's architect, William Smith, to build a new castle on the premises in a Scottish Baronial style, and then demolished the old castle.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert got the architect of Aberdeen's city, William Smith, to design the new, current castle in a Scottish Baronial style. (Image: Getty)

3. Queen Victoria added a number of cottages to the estate

After the main castle was complete, Prince Albert had plenty of plans for the rest of the property, however unfortunately wasn't able to see his vision to its completion before he died, however Victoria continued his plans for him, adding a number of houses to the estate over the years.
According to Architectural Digest she built the Garden Cottage for her children, Baile-na-Coille for her servant and Karim Cottage for her Indian secretary.
Prince William, Kate and their children are said to have stayed in the three-bedroom cottage Tam-na-Ghar during their stay this summer.

4. Prince Philip is in charge of managing the gardens

Prince Philip reportedly took a great interest in the gardens when he and Queen Elizabeth took over the estate.
He created a large vegetable garden next to Queen Mary's flower garden, start an oak plantation and built a flowering paved walkway and a water garden.
Prince Philip at the Balmoral Estate greenhouse and vegetable gardens. (Image: Getty)

5. Tartan and green is the aesthetic of choice

While peeks inside the Queen's private quarters are rare, we have seen glimpses, and there definitely seems to be a theme to the interior design.
Green hues are prominent through the drawing room and shared spaces and, being located in Scotland, it shouldn't be a surprise that various patterns of tartan can be seen used for the carpets and curtains.

6. Queen Victoria’s dog Noble is always on the grounds

Spread over 50,000 acres, the sweeping reach of the estate is incredible to say the least and there's plenty to do, from horse riding, hunting, hiking and fishing, there's bound to be hidden gems and new places to discover each time you visit.
One hidden gem is a heartwarming one – hidden out in the wilderness you may come across a statue of Queen Victoria's collie dog called Noble.
The statue of Queen Victoria's dog Noble, on the Balmoral estate. (Image: Getty)