KATE MIDDLETON is set to join the Queen at Balmoral this month – and the Duchess of Cambridge’s love for the Highland estate provoked a “massively significant” token of affection from Prince Charles, according to a royal biographer.
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William delighted royal watchers last week as they took part in the King’s Cup Regatta, their first engagement in the UK after returning from a summer holiday in Mustique. The Duke and Duchess’ next stop will be the Queen’s beloved Scottish estate Balmoral, where they are expected to take Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis before the older children are back at school in September.
Kate and William have been visiting Balmoral since they first met in Scotland, at the University of St Andrews, in 2001.
The special place the Queen’s beloved estate has in Kate’s heart even helped her forge a bond with her father-in-law Prince Charles, according to an expert.
Royal author Robert Jobson, in his 2006 book “William’s Princess”, delves into the significance of the royal Highland retreat.
Mr Jobson writes: “William’s grandmother showed her conviction in the significance of Kate to her grandson when she ensured that the young couple would have a secure and romantic bolthole on the Balmoral estate.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince of Wales (Image Getty)
Prince Charles instilled a love of Balmoral in his sons Prince William and Prince Harry (Image Getty)
“Work began on a £80,000 facelift for a beautiful, if faded, 120-year-old courage hidden away on a secluded corner of the Queen’s estate and just a short stroll away from Charles’ own Aberdeenshire retreat of Birkhall – a place much loved by both Charles and Camilla and where they intend to spend each New Year together following their marriage.
“For Charles, the Balmoral estate had for a long time been somehow symbolic of much that was wrong between him and Diana.
“He loved the wilderness and could spend hours up to his waist in the waters of the River Dee, casting his rod and waiting patiently for the fish to bite.
“Diana simply did not get it.
Balmoral Castle (Image Getty)
“She, by contrast, loathed the long country miles, the long country hours and what she regarded as the achingly stuffy remoteness of the place.
“But Birkhall and Camilla was a very different prospect.
“To Charles, it is a place that has always represented the freedom to be truly himself; there he and Camilla are simply Mr and Mrs Wales, happy to spend hours walking across the moors.
“Perhaps part of Charles’ affection for Kate stemmed from his recognition that in her William had found somebody who could happily share the remote Aberdeenshire landscapes that he loved, somebody who would walk by his side as far as he wanted and curl up in front of a roaring fire at the end of the day.
Prince Charles and Camilla at home in Birkhall (Image Getty)
Prince Charle’s home Birkhall (Image Getty)
“The fact that, along with the Queen, he gifted the couple a Highland ‘home’ was massively significant.
“The Queen picked up the bill but it is fair to say she would not have dreamed of offering the place without the blessing of William’s father.”
However, Balmoral was also the scene of some sharp criticism for Kate when she was pictured learning how to hunt and shoot deer there in 2007.
Kate was spotted being taught by Prince Charles how to get started in the sport of deer stalking.
Royal residences (Image DX)
Although the pastime is key for managing deer populations in the Scottish Highlands and is popular with the Royal Family, Kate’s joining in drew ire from animal rights groups.
The Daily Mail reported at the time: “Eyewitnesses said Miss Middleton showed a remarkable level of confidence as she chatted enthusiastically with Prince Charles while he showed her the ropes.”
A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said: ”It is shocking and abhorrent that she is engaging in blood sports.
“Kate is obviously trying to endear herself to the Royal Family and her decision will do her no favours whatsoever.”
Kate and William’s latest royal outing together on the Isle of Wight (Image Getty)
A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said: ”Killing deer for a sport is a horrible pastime. It’s very sad that she has chosen to participate in this cruel sport.
“It’s hardly a setting in a good role model for young women, killing animals and I can’t see that this will do her reputation any good whatsoever.”
Kate’s Balmoral trip that year was also a sign that the brief break-up between William and Kate was over.
Unbeknown to the wider world at that time, Prince William had already whisked Kate off on a romantic trip to Seychelles to repair the relationship.
The pair made a secret pact of commitment to each other on the tropical island of Desroches after the 2007 split-up, which William had initiated when he “needed some space”.
There have reportedly been tensions brewing around Balmoral this year, too, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be delaying their annual trip until after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has left Scotland.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK