Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry are preparing their first family trip to Scotland, where they will join Queen Elizabeth II at her beloved vacation getaway Balmoral Castle — but the upcoming visit is already raising some questions.
Vanity Fair reported on Friday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join the monarch, 93, and her husband Prince Philip later this month, whereas Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge are expected to stay in their own cottage named Tam-na-Ghar, which is on the grounds of the estate.
With rumors of tension between the royal brothers since Harry became involved with the former American actress, some may believe the separate housing could be a sign of feuding occurring. However, a source close to the royal household told the outlet that the separation is actually a good move for the families.
“The queen has a lot of guests coming and to ease the pressure the Cambridges are likely to stay in the cottage,” claimed the source. “That could have added benefits for everyone as it means more space in the castle.”
Other guests expected to arrive include Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, along with their two children, as well as Princess Anne. In addition, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stay at Birkhall, the late Queen Mother’s house on the grounds of the estate.
“It can get quite busy at what they call ‘the big house’ and it’s not especially relaxing even though it’s a holiday,” said the source. “There’s a daily routine which evolves around mealtimes, several outfit changes every day, sometimes five, and the queen likes everything to run like clockwork. The focus is on being outdoors and in the countryside walking, grousing, fishing and hunting.”
And when it comes to staying at Balmoral Castle, Elizabeth is no-nonsense with house rules. Guests are expected to join her for barbecues, no matter the weather, and are required to assist with the cleanup so that her staff gets a break.
“It’s the one time when the queen is mostly off duty,” explained royal historian Hugo Vickers. “The queen loves her annual visit when she can stay in the same bed for weeks on end instead of moving around. Although her work goes on… it is a more gentle pace for her and her time is largely her. The aides reduce the papers she has to read to just a few before lunch and tea so that she has plenty of time with her family.”
“She loves to teach the little ones to ride and talk,” continued Vickers. “The queen is very much an outdoors person. She usually rides every day and her groom comes to Balmoral with her. [The family] will all be on their best behavior. The queen enjoys having her family around. She’s a grandmother and a great grandmother and she loves having her family come to stay with her.
Vanity Fair shared the late Princess Diana hated Balmoral due to its weather and midges. She also disapproved of her sons William and Harry hunting. Middleton and Markle both enjoy the castle but Markle, in particular, is known for not being a fan of hunting.
Back in July of this year, friends of William and Harry told royal expert and author Katie Nicholl that the arrival of Harry’s firstborn, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, has further healed relations between the siblings.
Markle, 38, and Harry, 34, welcomed baby Archie on May 6.
“There was, however, a genuine rift between the princes that had been brewing since Harry’s engagement to Meghan [in late 2017],” Nicholl recently shared to Vanity Fair. “According to a friend of the brothers, they fell out after William voiced his concerns that Harry’s relationship with Meghan was moving too quickly."
“’William had concerns and Harry resented that,’ says the friend,” continued Nicholl. “’Harry also felt that William and Kate hadn’t made enough effort with Meghan. At one stage the situation between Harry and William was so strained that they were not on speaking terms, but things have been ‘much better’ since Archie’s arrival.”
Nicholl shared things are moving in a much more positive direction since the Duchess of Sussex became an official member of the royal family when she married Harry in May 2018.
“At Kensington Palace, the duchess earned a reputation among some courtiers for being difficult and demanding,” claimed Nicholl to the outlet. “Her habit of sending 5 a.m. emails to staff saw her nicknamed ‘Hurricane Meghan,’ and there was an unusually high turnover of palace staff — five to date since Meghan’s arrival, including two private assistants who allegedly quit under the pressures of the job, and the duchess’s head of security, a woman whose name has never been released by Kensington Palace.
“The couple’s interim private secretary, Samantha Cohen, is due to leave imminently, while assistant private secretary Amy Pickerill left the royal household on amicable terms shortly before Archie’s birth.”
If that weren’t enough, Markle’s paternal side of her family, including estranged father Thomas Markle, has frequently spoken out to the press.
Despite the rocky transition, Nicholl said courtiers told her Markle has kept a positive attitude “by not reading any press, good or bad,” as well as leaning on her husband, “who is 100 percent devoted.”
“The papers like to use the word ‘difficult,’” a source who works closely with the former “Suits” star told Nicholl. “I’d say ‘different.’ It was hard for her. She didn’t have a support structure in place and she was getting used to living in a new country and being part of a very unique institution.”
But these days, Markle is gearing up to become a British citizen and has already “adopted Britishism” along the way.
As for Harry, marriage and fatherhood have also been a welcoming change.
“Once a royal rebel, he now starts his mornings with a green juice (blended by Meghan) and practices meditation,” claimed Nicholl. “He has quit smoking and rarely drinks alcohol. Their life at Frogmore is one of domestic bliss, amazingly ordinary.”