THE QUEEN and husband Prince Philip took time out of their annual Balmoral summer holiday to undertake an important joint engagement – despite the Duke of Edinburgh having retired from royal duties two years ago.
The Court Circular, which is the official record of the past and future public duties of the royal family, reveals the couple met with Paul Hughes to award him the Insignia of a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order on Monday, Hello! reports. In 2009, Mr Hughes received the Royal Victorian Order (MVO), with the recent award being a higher rank. Mr Hughes was the chief clerk and accountant of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Household.
This resulted in the 93-year-old Monarch and her husband, 98, taking time out of their Scottish break.
The Queen has been joined by sons Prince Charles and Prince Andrew as well as Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and her children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.
Also staying at the retreat in the Scottish Highlands are Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and her two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Princess Eugenie, who married wine merchant Jack Brooksbank last October at a lavish Windsor wedding, once called Balmoral Castle the “the most beautiful place on earth”.
The Queen and husband Prince Philip took time out of their annual Balmoral summer holiday (Image GETTY)
The Queen inspects the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at Balmoral (Image PA)
The Duchess of York’s visit was cut short after only staying at the property for a weekend.
Princess Eugenie said during a past ITV appearance: “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.
“It’s the most beautiful place on earth.”
She added: “I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands.”
The Queen is said to be most at home at Balmoral (Image PA)
Queen meeting Regimental mascot Cpl Cruachan IV, as well as Pony Major Mark Wilkinson (Image PA)
The monarch usually spends August to October at the Scottish Castle and arrived there on August 4.
The Queen has a wealth of stunning properties available at her disposal which include Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Sandringham estate as well as Balmoral Castle.
But of them all, Queen Elizabeth II is said to be most at home at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire.
She will no doubt enjoy her time away from the chaos of Westminster this summer.
Queen arriving at Crathie Kirk for the Sunday church service (Image PA)
Queen attending church with other members of the royal family near Balmoral (Image PA)
A royal expert has claimed Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and baby Archie are likely Balmoral guests this year and that the Queen can’t wait to host them.
Mr Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk: “It would seem likely that Harry and Meghan will take Archie to Balmoral this year to be with the Queen, especially as this will be a special time for them with Archie born so recently.”
“The Queen is obviously fond of her and if reports of their visit are correct, will be looking forward to it enormously.”
The Queen is said to enjoy a refreshing country walk around the stunning estate.
The Queen will attend the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering towards the end of her Balmoral trip (Image PA)
Since Queen Victoria’s time, the reigning monarch has been the patron of the Royal Highland Games (Image PA)
Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their honeymoon at Balmoral, in 1981 (Image GETTY)
Prince Charles and Princess Diana spent their honeymoon there and were snapped taking a stroll on the countryside around the castle.
Balmoral is a haven for royals away from the media spotlight and is one of the rare places they can enjoy real privacy.
The Queen also attends the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering towards the end of her Balmoral trip.
The event is the biggest Highland Game gathering in the calendar and not one Her Majesty likes to miss.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK