Kate Middleton style: Tips for dressing like the Duchess
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Balmoral Castle has been in the Royal Family for more than 150 years, and lies on an enormous estate with grassy expanses. It is known as the Queen’s summer holiday home, where she and Prince Philip spent every summer together and would be joined by other family members, and sometimes the Prime Minister too. The green expanses are used for hunting, horse riding and a host of other outdoor activities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the weekend with the Queen in Scotland, before returning to London on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Prince Andrew was seen on Monday fleeing Windsor to head to the Scottish Highlands, after he was said to be going “stir crazy” inside The Royal Lodge.
For family members, Balmoral is the perfect escape since it allows them privacy to be themselves and enjoy the stunning surroundings, but for non-royals, it’s a totally different story – they are said to be ‘tested’ on their first visit.
However, Margaret Thatcher famously hated the place, and struggled with the infamous ‘Balmoral Test’ which all outsiders must take.
Season four of hit Netflix series “The Crown” dedicates an entire episode to the test, which the Iron Lady is seen to fail miserably, while Lady Diana Spencer passed with flying colours.
The Duchess of Cambridge is also said to have had a successful first trip to Balmoral.
This is a good thing too because, according to Andrew Morton, author of ‘Princess Diana: Her Story in Her Own Words’, Kate could have “vanished” from royal favour if she failed at this hurdle.
He wrote: “Those who successfully navigate this social minefield, popularly known as ‘the Balmoral Test’ are accepted by the Royal Family.
“The ones who fail vanish from royal favour as quickly as the Highland mists come and go.”
Royal expert and author Omid Scobie gave an insight on how to pass the test.
He said: “If you’ve scored an invite, prepare to brush up on your royal protocol, have a wealth of talking points at the ready, an outfit for every occasion (from hunting to black tie) and, most importantly, be on your best behaviour at all times.
“Social etiquette is a must! If you don’t like the food, eat it anyway.”
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Mr Scobie described the visit as a “front row seat within the Queen’s inner sanctum”, where “whatever she does goes”, so visitors need to be prepared to trample through the Highlands in the wind and rain.
Kate made an immediate impression on the royals. The test, if passed, can help to form strong bonds with the family.
If failed, however, bridges are not so easy to rebuild.
Royal author Christian Anderson spoke of the Duchess’ visit: “As Kate stood on the riverbank angling for salmon, trout and pike, it quickly became clear to one member of the Balmoral staff that she seemed ‘perfectly at home here’.”
She was so successful that her family were invited up the following year for a shooting weekend. Not everyone does so well though, noted Mr Scobie.
He said: “Out of those privileged enough to have been invited to Balmoral Castle during the summer, not everyone has passed.
“Diana famously flew through it, thanks to her aristocratic background and upbringing, but the likes of Cherie Blair [wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair] and our current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, have not.”
One particular test offers outsiders the chance to see whether or not they will commit the ultimate royal faux-pas. One chair in the castle has not been sat on since Queen Victoria’s reign.
Mr Morton said sitting in the chair is a real no-no. He wrote: “The family will shout ‘Don’t sit there’ at you, and immediately you know you’re scum.”
The chair is still positioned exactly where Victoria, who died 120 years ago, liked it in the drawing room.
The Queen is said to be at her happiest when she is at Balmoral.
Her Majesty has even been reported to clear the dinner table and do the washing up.
Prince Charles, too, is known for his love of the estate; he and the Duchess of Cornwall spent last year’s coronavirus lockdown at Birkhall on the same estate.
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