'Full of fun': Walks, picnics and BBQs in place she loved – Queen's final days laid bare

Elizabeth II died peacefully at the age of 96 on Thursday in the sanctuary of Balmoral Castle where she is said to have felt most at home. She is understood to have enjoyed her last summer in the Highlands, with walks in the countryside, picnics and barbecues and a number of visits from beloved family and friends, most recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children.

A source previously said: “It’s been a very typical and jolly summer at Balmoral, lots of walks and picnics and BBQs.

“It has followed the pace long set by the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh.

“Obviously the Queen hasn’t been present throughout but she has taken part and been seen.”


Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, who spent last weekend with the monarch said she was “full of fun” and the “life and soul of things”.

The clergyman, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, stayed with the Queen at Balmoral after performing a sermon at Braemar and Crathie Parish Church where he enjoyed a dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday with the 96-year-old and her children Princess Anne and Prince Charles.

He described how the Queen’s death came as a “great shock”.

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“She was speaking very personally to me about her time there way back when she was a child, she was talking about her horses from the past, naming them from 40 years ago, people’s names and places. She was quite remarkable.”

Another royal source who saw the Queen just days ago described her as in “genuinely good spirits”.

Hinting Her Majesty’s decline in health was sudden, they told the Daily Mail’s Rebecca English: “I know you would expect me to say that but she really was.”

Scotland was a special place for the Queen over the decades, both for holidays and royal duties.

She spent part of her honeymoon at Birkhall on the rural Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire with her new husband at the time, Prince Philip, and the estate was her favoured residence in Scotland.

The Balmoral Estate lies in the countryside of Aberdeenshire and is made up of 50,000 acres and 150 buildings, including Birkhall, the estate of Prince Charles and Craigowan Lodge.

It is well-known that the 96-year-old monarch spent her summer holidays in Scotland, but she often arrived before the close of the tourist season, during which Balmoral Castle is open to the public.

For this reason, the Queen stayed at Craigowan Lodge for a few days before the royal household relocated to the main castle once it closed to visitors.

The cottage holds great significance for the Queen, who would spend the first days of her Scottish summer there with her late husband.

In April last year, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the monarch was said to have spent time at the lodge.

Queen Victoria described Balmoral as her “Heaven on Earth” when it was redeveloped in the 1850s and the Queen was said to be “never happier” than when spending her summer break at the north-east estate.

It has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family since it was bought for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 and has been handed down through generations.

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