A place of freedom and happiness: Balmoral Castle and why Elizabeth II chose to die there

Balmoral Castle in Scotland had a special place in Queen Elizabeth II’s heart. The summer residence of the royal family was not coincidentally also the place where the British monarch chose to spend time his last days.

While it will probably never be clear whether Elizabeth II and her doctors knew she was dying, the choice of Balmoral Castle was far from accidental.

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History of the castle

Balmoral was bought by Prince Albert as a gift to Queen Victoria – Elizabeth II’s great-great-great-grandmother.

The love between Victoria and Albert is proverbial in British history. The two remain deeply in love for the rest of their lives and use every moment to be together. It was in Scotland and in Balmoral Castle that they experienced some of their best moments.

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Queen Victoria described the castle as “a place that makes you forget the world and all the sad moments”. “Everything here inspires freedom and tranquility,” she adds in her personal letters.

The estate extends over more than 202 sq km. In addition to the main castle, Charles’ home is also located on site, as well as several other buildings. There is a lush garden, fountains and rich nature.

Elizabeth’s love II to Balmoral

Balmoral Castle is where Prince Philip proposed to Elizabeth – still just a princess at the time. They also spend their honeymoon there. In letters and personal correspondence, the Queen has repeatedly said that it was in Scotland that she experienced her best moments.

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Elizabeth II hosted hundreds of castle garden parties and hunting parties. Balmoral was where the royal family spent almost every Christmas.

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The four children of Elizabeth and Philip – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew grew up in the castle, surrounded by nature and freedom. Later, Balmoral was where Prince Charles introduced the Queen to Diana.

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And the next generation of children – Princes William and Harry spent a large part of their childhood in the green fields of Scotland and in the halls of Balmoral.

Moments of grief

Although the castle is mostly associated with good memories, its walls also witnessed one of the most difficult moments for the British royal family – the death of Princess Diana.

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When she died in a car accident in Paris, her sons Princes William and Harry were at Balmoral with Elizabeth II. She is the one who has to tell the children about their mother’s death and take the first blow of the crushing loss.

In their older years, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent a lot of time in the castle and on nature walks. One of their last moments as a family is right there.

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In a 2016 documentary, Princess Eugenie, who is Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, said “I think grandma is happiest here. I think she really, really loves the Scottish lands.’


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