Revealed: the Secrets of Where the Royal Family Goes on Vacation

King Charles opens up the royals’ Scottish summer bolthole of Balmoral to tour groups, inside the Beckham-Sussex feud, and a new, non-scary portrait of Charles is released.Updated Jun. 30, 2024 8:14AM EDT / Published Jun. 30, 2024 8:10AM EDT Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty ImagesBalmoral is now… open!Is that the sound of many royal fans’ tip-tapping their fingers to search “flights to Scotland”?

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King Charles opens up the royals’ Scottish summer bolthole of Balmoral to tour groups, inside the Beckham-Sussex feud, and a new, non-scary portrait of Charles is released.

The final day of the Golden Jubilee tour ends with a Garden Party in the grounds of the Queen's home at Balmoral Castle. Queen Elizabeth ll walks through the gardens to meet some of her 3,srcsrcsrc guests.

Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Balmoral is now… open!

Is that the sound of many royal fans’ tip-tapping their fingers to search “flights to Scotland”? Balmoral, the royals’ summer retreat in Scotland, opens to the public Monday, and the Sunday Times went in early for the gawp-tastic tour sure to attract scores of tourists.

The Times began the tour in the drawing room, where Queen Elizabeth was photographed two days before she died, smiling at the camera in a lovely, spontaneous moment just before she met with Liz Truss, as she began what would be a disastrously short tenure as British Prime Minister.

Queen Elizabeth waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government, at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Britain September 6, 2src22.

Queen Elizabeth waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government, at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Britain September 6, 2022.

Jane Barlow/Pool via Reuters

King Charles is opening seven of Balmoral’s 100 rooms to the public. In the drawing room he has, we learn, “changed the carpets back to ‘hunting Stewart tartan’: the green, blue, yellow and red check pattern that Victoria would have had fitted originally. He has also hung new chintz curtains with a light tartan stripe, with matching sofa covers.”

Disappointment may await those booking for tours of the rooms (going till Aug. 4), with all 3,400 tickets for the 45-minute tour sold out within two hours of going on sale on April 2, the Times reported.

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and their sons Prince Edward (second from left), Prince Charles (second from right) and Prince Andrew (right) in the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Scotland, UK, 2srcth September 1979.

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and their sons Prince Edward (second from left), Prince Charles (second from right) and Prince Andrew (right) in the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Scotland, UK, 20th September 1979.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The king’s Wellington boots are on display, and visitors will see the dining room, and finally the library where Charles now has his study.

A royal source told the Times Charles wanted “to bring people in to connect with the institution. He recognizes it needs to keep evolving, and in the modern era people want to be able to access their palaces. He embraces that and sees them as public places more than private spaces.”

Friends of Prince William “did not instantly warm” to Charles’ plans to open up Balmoral, but a friend of the king told the Times that he wasn’t as sentimental as William: “With the exception of Birkhall [the home he shares with the Queen on the estate], he feels like everywhere is temporary accommodation, rather than his place of nurture. It is to do with his upbringing, I don’t think he ever stayed in one place for more than three months at a time, so he regards them more as lodgings than home. He by nature is someone who opens doors to people, not closes them.”

All about the Beckham/Sussex feud

New light has been shed on the alleged falling out of the Sussexes with the Beckham clan. Attentive readers may recall that although David Beckham (an old friend of Harry’s) and Victoria were invited to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials, the Sussexes were not present at the wedding of Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz.

Now, author Tom Bower, in a revelatory new biography, House of Beckham, says that the ill-feeling goes back to a snub at the 2018 Invictus Games. David showed up to support Harry’s initiative but was left “perplexed” after Harry left him “alone at the Invictus Games stadium,” in Sydney.

Bower writes that Harry “had ordered that under no circumstances was the footballer to be allowed near him,” and that, “Photographs of the two together were forbidden. The royal snub was brutal.”

 Prince Harry with David Beckham, 2src1src

Prince Harry with David Beckham, 2010

Owen Humphreys – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Bower goes on to claim that the “exclusion order” was made at the request of Meghan who “did not want any competition in the media from Beckham, and especially not from his wife Victoria.”

The snub, according to Bower, explains why Beckham has since been so keen to align himself with the U.K. Windsors including taking time out from the World Cup to fly “7,600 miles from Qatar to Boston to join, William and Kate (Middleton), and President Biden to celebrate the launch of the royals’ environmental Earthshot prize.”

David has also been making nice with the king in recent months, visiting him at his home in Highgrove for a discussion about bee keeping, a hobby they both pursue.

U.K. newspaper The Independent, which covered the story in depth this week, said it had sought comment from both the Sussexes and the Beckhams.

Princely price tag

King Charles intends to make £1million ($1.26m) a year renting out Prince Andrew’s home when his troublesome brother finally vacates the magnificent property, the Sun says.

An insider told the paper: “It makes sense for Royal Lodge to be handed back to Crown Estates, which can pay for the much-needed repairs and renovations. It could then be rented to earn money for them, the King’s coffers and the country rather than being a drain on everyone’s resources.”

Only one wrinkle: Andrew has no intention of leaving the property and can’t be legally obliged to.

New Charles portrait released

Don’t panic, the latest Charles portrait doesn’t look anything like he is being subsumed into a voracious tomato stew, just as in that most recent controversy-generating painting. A new portrait of King Charles has been released, this time a photograph taken by Hugo Burnand, with Charles wearing his Field Marshal’s ceremonial dress with medals, sword and decorations. It was released to mark Armed Forces Day in the U.K., which took place Saturday, and was taken last November before Charles’ cancer diagnosis.

Queen Camilla marked the day with a video message, recorded at Clarence House, in which she noted the “incredible bravery” of those who fought the Nazis. The “same spirit and those same qualities” remain in evidence today, she said, adding those in the armed forces “not only protect these Isles, but also defend liberties way beyond these shores. Your determination, unrelenting efforts and selfless loyalty to each other and to the United Kingdom are as enduring as our gratitude.”

When life gives you lemons…

There has been a familiar sound following Meghan Markle’s announcement that she would be creating a new series of podcasts with Lemonada Media; a yawning silence on the matter.

It has been previously reported that Meghan’s failure to deliver anything for Lemonada, following the splashy announcement in February, was down to her busy schedule, with a cookery show to record and the jam-heavy launch of her American Riviera Orchard brand.

Meghan Markle appears onstage at the 2src21 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, U.S., September 25, 2src21.

Meghan Markle appears onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, U.S., September 25, 2021.

Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

This all makes the question of who will be on her new podcasts more fraught. Speaking to the Express, celebrity PR Kayley Cornelius speculated: “While Meghan’s contact list may not have completely diminished, she will certainly have a smaller pool to rely on. “Potential guests could include friends from her Suits days, such as Abigail Spencer and Wendell Pierce, who likely remain accessible points of contact for Meghan.”

We guess she won’t be inviting Victoria Beckham (see above).

This week in royal history

July 1 is a double-significant royal date—in 1961 it was the birth date of Princess Diana, then in 1969 it was the day of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

Unanswered questions

Will Charles travel Down Under as planned this Fall, and is New Zealand definitely off the agenda?

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