Want to travel like royalty? Get inspired by the British royal family holidays. From dreamy private islands in the Caribbean to luxury lodges in Africa, the famous family are known to jet off to some of the world’s most lavish, yet secluded, destinations to spend their downtime.
As Queen Elizabeth prepares to become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee on 6 February 2022, after marking 70 years of service, it’s likely Her Majesty will be in need of a well-deserved break. So where do the royal family deem worthy of a holiday? From the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite ski resort to the Queen’s beloved Scottish Highland estate, here are five holiday hotspots the royals put on repeat.
1. Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Set on the northeast coast of the Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire offers a stunning landscape of beaches, rivers, ancient ruins, and quaint seaside towns. It’s also home to Balmoral Castle, the private royal residence and beloved estate where Queen Elizabeth spends her annual summer holidays. Before his passing, Prince Philip also joined the Queen here every year. Other members of the royal family often join her for holidays in Scotland too, including the Cambridges and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice of York. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall also have their own home on the Balmoral Estate, known as Birkhall, which Prince Charles inherited from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Why Balmoral? Queen Elizabeth reportedly feels most at home in the wild, secluded beauty of the Scottish Highlands. She loves getting away to enjoy her favourite outdoor pursuits, such as walking, horse riding, picnics, shooting, and driving her Range Rover. Princess Eugenie once said: “I think Granny is the most happy there, I think she really, really loves the Highlands… walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs… You just have room to breathe and run.”
The sprawling Balmoral Estate is famed for its remarkable Scots Baronial architecture, immaculate gardens, and protected wildlife, including endangered red squirrels. There are 50,000 acres of mountains, valleys, forests, pastures, moors, lochs, and gardens, so it’s understandable why Balmoral has served as a private royal retreat for over 150 years. While it’s a private residence for the British royal family, they do allow visitors from April to July. You can stay in one of the cottages on the grounds, or spend your Aberdeenshire holiday in one of the region’s charming old inns.
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2. Klosters, Switzerland
The British royal family are known to be skiing enthusiasts, so where better to indulge their passion for snowsports than the Alps? While they’ve been known to spend their ski holidays in places like Verbier, Switzerland and Courchevel, France, the royal family have a preference for Klosters, the luxury ski resort in the Swiss Alps. With plush suites combined with a peaceful, discreet atmosphere and breathtaking alpine landscapes, this snowy retreat is definitely a favourite of the British royal family.
Prince Charles often took the late Princess Diana and his sons, Princes William and Harry, when they were children, and it’s reportedly where William and Harry learned to ski. Both princes have since returned many times in adulthood, and it’s where Prince William first went public with his now-wife, Kate Middleton, after they were spotted on the slopes. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie also love to spend time at Klosters, while Prince Charles is such a famous and frequent guest, that there are cable cars named in his honour.
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3. Corfu, Greece
The Greek Islands are famed as a favourite holiday destination for A-listers, but which island is the most loved by the British royal family? It’s the exquisite island of Corfu, where sparkling turquoise waters lap against brilliant white sand beaches. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are known to come here on their summer holidays to soak up the Mediterranean sunshine and it’s also where Prince Charle’s father, Prince Philip, was born as a Greek prince in 1921.
Prince Charles once said: “Greece is in my blood and I have long had a fascination for her ancient culture and history.” The couple spends time at their villa on the mainland and also on superyachts at sea. If you’d like to spend your next holidays like the royals, there’s plenty to see and do in Corfu, from exploring the historic Corfu Town and wine and olive oil tasting to simply relaxing on the picturesque beaches.
4. Botswana, Africa
The British royal family are known to head to Africa when they want to retreat into nature. Prince William often visits Kenya as Royal Patron of Tusk and President of United For Wildlife and it’s where he proposed to Kate Middleton in October 2010.
For Prince Harry, it’s Botswana that holds a special place in his heart. He took his now-wife Meghan Markle to Botswana for their glamorous third date in 2016 and it’s said to be the place they fell in love. They reportedly stayed at Meno A Kwena, a luxury, sustainable tented camp perched above the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi National Park.
Harry said in an interview: “We camped out with each other under the stars… We were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to get to know each other.” The couple returned again the following year to celebrate Meghan’s 36th birthday. When Harry proposed, he even sourced one of the diamonds on Meghan’s engagement ring from Botswana.
Harry also visited Botswana as part of a tour of Africa in 2019 and talked about his deep connection to the place. He says he first discovered the beauty of Botswana when his father took him and his brother here to get away from it all after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. He said the trip helped him to cope and he now comes here every summer. With its spectacular savannahs, deltas, and deserts, it’s safe to say that Botswana is one of the most loved British royal family travel locations.
5. Mustique, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Beautiful, secluded – and off-limits to paparazzi – the magnificent island of Mustique is the ultimate tropical paradise… So it makes sense that it’s a favoured destination for British royal family holidays. As part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, this exclusive Caribbean island is all about dreamy turquoise waters and powdery white beaches. The island takes the privacy of its guests seriously and it’s played host to many royals over the years from Prince William and Kate Middleton to Queen Elizabeth and the late Princess Margaret.
Mustique’s history with the British royal family began in the sixties when it was a beloved retreat for Princess Margaret. She spent her honeymoon there and then built her own private villa, called Les Jolies Eaux, after Lord Glenconner gave her land in Mustique in 1960 as a wedding gift. She often hosted royal family members including her sister, Queen Elizabeth, and once said it was the only place she could truly relax. The six-bedroom villa is now available as a private rental.
Mustique is still a royal favourite today and Kate and William love to spend their summer holidays here. In 2018, the couple enjoyed a night out attending the 50th-anniversary party for Basil’s Bar, the iconic beachside bar. In fact, Kate and her family have been holidaying here for years, even before she married Prince William. Kate’s parents have been known to join the Cambridges on their holidays here. The couple also bring their children to the island paradise and Kate even took Prince George’s official birthday portrait here – so we know this is one special place for the British royal family.
Are you dreaming of visiting any of these beloved British royal family travel locations? Let us know in the comments below…