They may take up residence in Buckingham Palace and go out on world tours, but when the royal family needs a rest, they have plenty of go-to vacation spots. You may have heard about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s beloved Botswana travels recently, but let’s not forget Queen Elizabeth‘s holiday homes. As you would imagine, they aren’t renting shore houses like the rest of us!
It’s intriguing to learn that the royals frequent the same places year after year for the same reasons we would: tradition, profound sentimentality, and even romance. Here are just a few places the royal family frequents!
Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Oh, the Sandringham House. Though you're free to take a trip to Norfolk, you probably won't be able to celebrate the holidays at Queen Elizabeth's family-only vacation spot. Even Harry's new fianceé won't be able to join in on their black-tie Christmas Eve dinner—no boyfriends or girlfriends are allowed.
What you can expect from a holiday at the House is the Queen arriving early to oversee festivities, the family opening gifts post-tea time Christmas Eve, and everyone marching to St Mary Magdalene Church for an 11 am service. And good luck trying to beat the Queen at charades—apparently she's a pro!
Prince Harry Botswana
Prince Harry and Prince William have been coming to Botswana since they were teenagers, and Harry even dubs it his "second home." But the country now holds a place in his heart for a different reason: it's where he and Meghan fell in love.
In their first broadcast interview following their engagement, Harry talked of being "beautifully surprised" when he first met Meghan. "It was, I think, about three maybe four weeks later that I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana and we camped out with each other under the stars." So romantic!
And their love affair with the country doesn't end there. Not only did they make a special return trip for Meghan's 36th birthday, but it's immortalized in her royal engagement ring. While Meghan has two diamonds from Princess Diana's personal collection, the center stone is from, you guessed it, Botswana.
The entire royal family has a soft spot for the Swiss Alps, but the go-to winter getaway began with Prince Charles—his visits were so frequent there are two cable cars in Klosters named after him.
And consider this Will and Kate's Botswana! The two made their first public appearance vacationing in the quaint little town back in 2004, and their first public kiss occurred two years later on those very same slopes! Who would think that over a decade later William would be bringing back their kids for some snowy fun, making it a true multi-generational family tradition.
Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Forget the Bahamas or a family road trip to Disney World. There is one place that the Queen spends her summers, and that's at Balmoral Castle. The estate has existed in the family since Prince Albert purchased it for Queen Victoria in 1848, and the interior hasn't been changed much since then. Liz and Prince Phillip stay from late August into October, hosting shooting parties and barbecues as the weather cools down for the season.
And while the Sandringham is a bust, you can live like a queen and vacation at Balmoral during the offseason — granted, you'll probably rent a cottage and not a castle, but we'll take what we can get.