Home News Prince William’s ‘dark days of grief’ led to ‘deep’ connection to Scotland
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Prince William’s ‘dark days of grief’ led to ‘deep’ connection to Scotland

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A notably challenging first half of the year for the UK’s Royal Family due to health concerns promises to take a turn for the better during the summer holidays, offering much needed cheer, especially to the young children of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Ten-year-old Prince George, nine-year-old Princess Charlotte, and six-year-old Prince Louis, will provide an emotional pillar of support for their mother as she courageously battles cancer.

In the midst of a challenging time, Catherine, at the age of 42, is expected to treasure every moment she gets to spend with her children this summer. A reprieve from the routines of daily life is anticipated to offer her and her spouse, Prince William, a much-needed extra dose of comfort.

After the King, Queen, and other significant members of the Royal Family make their conventional annual visit to Scotland for Holyrood Week, anticipation escalates for the highlight of their summer vacation – time spent at Balmoral. This yearly visit holds a particularly touching significance for the mother of three, according to a royal expert.

Beyond its stunning scenery, the allure of Scotland, for Prince William, extends to some of life’s most pivotal events.

king charles balmoral castle
The King has spent nearly every summer at Balmoral Castle since his birth
(Image: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

During their 1997 summer vacation at Balmoral, Prince William was hit with the devastating news of his mother’s passing, a grief that continued when his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II passed away while at Balmoral in 2022. However, it was also where he found future happiness, meeting his wife, Kate Middleton.

Sharing on his deep connection with Scotland, Prince William said, “In a nutshell, Scotland is the source of some of my most joyous memories, as well as some of my most sorrowful. It was at Balmoral where I received the tragic news of my mother’s passing. Still reeling, I found respite in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning. In the dark days of grief that followed, I found solace in the outdoors of Scotland. As such, my bond with Scotland will eternally run deep.”

Now as parents themselves, William and Kate are creating new memories for their children in Scotland. “George, Charlotte, and Louis are already aware of how dear Scotland is to both of us, and they’re beginning to create their own cherished memories there too,” William noted.

Both the nation and the Royal family share a unique bond, and it is this link which veteran royal commentator Jennie believes will play a significant part in shaping their plans for the summer holidays. She suggests that Prince William will consider Catherine’s preferences, stating that, “I believe William and the children will adjust to whatever is in the best interest of Catherine.”

BALLATER, SCOTLAND - APRIL 10: Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, and Prince Harry play on the bank of the River Dee, near Balmoral Estate, Scotland, on April 10,1987, in Ballater, Scotland.
1987, Charles, William, and Harry play on the bank of the River Dee, near Balmoral Estate, Scotland
(Image: UK Press via Getty Images)

There is always the possibility of visiting their treasured haven, Tam-Na-Ghar, a cottage filled with history and frequently visited by Queen Victoria. The cottage was bequeathed to William by his great grand-mother, the Queen Mother, after her passing in 2002.

Ex-BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond shared with Ok! magazine: “This year has been particularly trying for the Royal Family. Nothing would please the King more than to surround himself with family amidst the tranquillity of Balmoral, reflecting on the recent challenging months and looking forward to the future.

The Princess’ anticipated arrival at the family’s beloved summer retreat in Scotland has sparked a flurry of rumours. Jennie Bond commented: “As Catherine herself has expressed, cancer treatment casts a shadow of uncertainty over many aspects of life, including whether she can spend part of the summer holidays at Balmoral. In case she does make the trip, I can imagine that the entire family will be eager to surround her with love, support, and vitality. She, in turn, will aim to make the summer months as enjoyable and carefree for the children as she can, considering the hurdles she has faced.”

kate middleton and prince george
What could the impending Royal Family’s retreat to Balmoral signify for Kate?
(Image: Will Warr)

The Wales family might opt to retreat to Anmer Hall in Norfolk, their second home, if they decide against the trip to Scotland. This is a place where they can indulge in privacy, playtime in the spacious gardens, local jaunts, and day trips to the exquisite Holkham Beach.

Apart from its breathtaking beauty, Scotland holds a special place in the Princess’s heart as it was here at the University of St Andrews that her royal journey began when she met Prince William.

The Royal Family has traditionally escaped to the Highlands for their August break, where they partake in a variety of leisure activities.

“Just like in the late Queen’s reign, time at Balmoral is family time,” Jennie remarked. “And if the King gets the chance, he will relish the opportunity to spend time with his grandchildren, reading them stories, teaching them about local wildlife, playing cards, and having a picnic, weather permitting.”

royal family outside Balmoral Castle
A happy group on the lawns at Balmoral, Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their three children Princess Anne, Prince Charles and baby Prince Andrew
(Image: Topfoto/PA Images)

She added: “The Royal children’s passion for ponies is also encouraged here. The late Queen was known for placing her children and grandchildren on ponies and leading them around, and now Charles will do the same.”

This break from royal duties offers an excellent opportunity for some special bonding time with the younger members of the family. Known for his love for storytelling, the King might enthrall his grand-children with the children’s book he wrote in 1980, The Old Man of Lochnagar, set near Balmoral.

An opportunity could arise for the King to take a reflective walk through Prince George’s Wood, the arboretum at Birkhall, named after his eldest grandson in 2013.

Prince George, the future king, is expected to relish numerous barbecues and trips with his cousins in the Highlands, even potentially partaking in salmon fishing on the River Dee alongside James, Earl of Wessex, and his mother, the Duchess of Edinburgh.

queen elizabeth and prince philip with great grandchildren
The young generation of the royal family has commenced creating their cherished memories at Balmoral
(Image: The Duchess of Cambridge via Getty Images)

King Charles is anticipated to retreat to his Highland haven for some retrospection after a year marred by health concerns.

“Balmoral has always been a place where Charles could relax and take some time for self-reflection,” observes Jennie. “Walking across the moors gives him the ‘me-time’ he so cherishes, amidst solace in the hills and the rugged countryside.”

Queen Elizabeth II passed away at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96 and was admired as the Queen of Scots. While the Royal Family continues to carry out their official duties, her spirit feels intertwined with Scotland even after her passing.

Queen Elizabeth’s fondness for Scotland was well-known, with her making annual visits for both state matters and family occasions. The King holds his Scottish retreats in a similar regard, determined to continue his mother’s legacy and maintain this special bond with Scotland.

The King’s bond with Scotland remains unwavering, marked by key moments of his life, including his declaration of engagement to Queen Camilla at their Birkhall residence. This carries forward a royal tradition, as Balmoral was where Prince Philip privately proposed to Princess Elizabeth in 1946.

“This will mark their second summer at Balmoral without the late Queen – her presence, and absence, will definitely be keenly felt,” reflects Jennie.

The desire to escape to Balmoral, for William, Catherine, and the remainder of the Royal family, is now a glimmer of hope amidst the current challenges.

“The summer stay in Scotland has always been primarily a family time – a rare break from the hustle and bustle of their work lives back in London. It is a chance to ‘breathe, relax and stand still’, and that’s what they all love about it,” Jennie expands. “And, this year, more than ever before, they all need to regroup and prepare themselves for what they hope will be better days ahead.”

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