Vanity Fair reported on Thursday that an infestation of heather beetles has been sweeping the moors around Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite vacation getaway. The outlet shared that while the insects have long been a nuisance in that part of Scotland, this year they are threatening the local grouse population.
The game bird, described as “the squat, round cousins of the chicken,” has been impacted by the beetles, which have descended on the grounds of the royal Scottish estate.
The BBC also shared that February's winter storm “the Beast from the East” weakened the local plant life, leading to a greater infestation of heather beetles than usual. Grouse depend on the lush greenery from the moors to survive, resulting in a population hit.
A spokesperson for the estate confirmed to UK’s Daily Mail that the annual grouse hunting had gone to a screeching halt due to the dwindling number of birds.
“Grouse numbers go up and down but this year they have plummeted,” said the estate source to the outlet. “There probably will be no grouse shooting on Balmoral this season. It’s very disappointing. There is still [deer] stalking.”
However, other popular activities relished by royals at Balmoral include “horse-riding, picnics and country walks.”
A Balmoral insider also told the Daily Express the recent turn of events have put a damper on the summer season.
“There’s not much else to do at Balmoral and that’s why so many guests come,” the source alleged. “It’s a great shame.”
Vanity Fair pointed out last year’s grousing season also saw events canceled due to the conditions. However, not only did many go forward with the festivities, but it was reportedly Prince George’s first time joining in.
Earlier this month, Angela Levin, a veteran reporter on royal affairs, told Fox News Markle has reportedly received criticism from Harry’s friends over her modern, healthy lifestyle, which is believed he adopted since they met in 2016.
Levin has previously accompanied Harry, 34, on his many engagements and shadowed him for more than a year. Levin has released a paperback version of her 2018 book titled “Harry: A Biography of a Prince,” which is based on her exclusive conversation with the royal at Kensington Palace before he married Markle in May 2018. She also had access to numerous sources who had insider knowledge of the couple.
“I think that when people marry, they sort of slightly change so that they can work together as a team,” she explained. “There has been some criticism about her changing Harry. But I think she’s very confident… And he doesn’t mind at all. He is very, very proud of her. He’s actually in awe of her. He wants to be with her more than anything. His relationship with her is more important than anything.”
Despite the challenges Markle may have endured, Levin stressed Harry has been incredibly supportive of his spouse.
“He’s thrilled he found someone he felt totally in love with,” said Levin. “He also understands it’s not easy for her. She’s given up her freedom. But it’s been an exciting time for both of them, especially with the baby. You’re running and you’re not going to look around you.”
“Some of his friends were with him when he was heavily drinking, smoking and behaving like a bad boy,” Levin continued. “And he doesn’t want to do that anymore. He’s completely devoted to Meghan who is great into looking after yourself and keeping fit with yoga… He’s dropped a few people who just didn’t connect with her.”
In December 2018, Prince Harry reportedly chose not to participate in the family’s annual Boxing Day pheasant shoot – something he has done for at least 20 years – because of Markle’s love of animals, according to the Daily Mail. Markle has apparently always been passionate about wildlife and does not support hunting.
In May 2018, PETA praised Markle, 38, for her vegan-friendly lifestyle, including her opposition to fur and leather.
"By choosing to oppose fur and leather, Markle is actively helping to stop the global skins trade. Whether it came from an animal on a fur farm or one who was trapped in the wild, every fur coat, trinket, and bit of trim caused an animal tremendous suffering — and took away a life," PETA wrote in a blog post.
Harry allegedly skipped the 2017 pheasant hunt as well because of Markle.
“He hardly ever misses the shoot but he loves her so much," a royal insider told The Mirror, adding it looks like Harry's "shooting days are over."
"She’s a keen animal lover and likes to eat vegan during the week and she has a strict no-fur policy. She has also been encouraging Harry to eat less meat and more fruit and veg and is now keen to fully convert him to her views on hunting," another source added to the British tabloid.
Fox News' Jennifer Earl contributed to this report.