5 Facts About Queen Elizabeth's Scottish Summer Retreat

Jordi Lippe-Mcgraw

Even the royal family is trying to soak up the last bit of summer. Of course, they do so in a much grander way than the rest of us. It's a tradition that Queen Elizabeth II spends part of the summer at Balmoral castle in the Scottish Highlands, and last week Prince William, Duchess Kate, and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, joined her majesty there for a little family getaway.

What does the Queen's summer home look like? She's done a good job of keeping the extravagant dwelling private, but there a few interesting design details that have slipped out over the years, and Architectural Digest has rounded them up below.

1. The Current Castle Is Not Original

Victoria At Balmoral

Queen Victoria oversaw the completion of the building that stands today, which is not the original.
Photo: W. and D. Downey/Getty Images

Balmoral has technically been around since the 15th century, but several additions and renovations over the years have transformed the home into something far from the original version. A Scottish courtier called Sir Robert Gordon demolished most of the first building and constructed a new, smaller one in 1830. In the 1850s, Queen Victoria had the city of Aberdeen’s architect, William Smith, build a new castle on the premises in a Scottish Baronial style. She then demolished the old castle.

2. Queen Victoria Added Several Cottages to the Property

Garden Cottage, Balmoral Castle - Scotland

The garden cottage is one of the many on the grounds of Balmoral.
Photo: argalis/Getty Images

After the main house was completed, Queen Victoria's husband, Albert, had more plans for the property. Unfortunately, he died before he could see his vision completed, but Victoria continued it for him, adding several houses to the estate over the years. She built the Garden Cottage for her children, Baile-na-Coille for her servant, and Karim Cottage for her Indian secretary. It's reported that Prince William, Kate, and their kids are staying a three-bedroom cottage on the estate called Tam-na-Ghar.

3. Prince Philip Manages the Gardens

Balmoral Grounds And Greenhouse

The prince has taken great care of the gardens and farm.
Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

When Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip took over the estate, the Duke of Edinburgh took a keen interest in the gardens. He created a large vegetable garden next to Queen Mary's flower garden, started a plantation of oak, built a flowered paved walkway, and made a water garden.

4. Tartan and Green Is the Main Color Scheme

Royalty - The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh Celebrate Silver Wedding - Balmoral Castle

The Queen's study features the tartan carpet and wood paneling common in the castle.
Photo: PA Images/Getty Images

Again, we haven't seen much of the royal's private quarters in the castle. But we have seen a few glimpses, and there's a definite theme when it comes to design. Green hues are featured prominently in the drawing room and other common spaces, and there are tons of tartan patterns on various carpets and curtains throughout the home.

5. Queen Victoria's Dog Is a Permanent Fixture

Statue Of Queen Victoria's Dog

There's a statue of Queen Victoria's collie dog named Noble on the castle's grounds.
Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

If the castle isn't impressive enough, you can't help but be wowed by the estate's grounds. Spread out over 50,000 acres, there's plenty of space to enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting and hiking, and there's one heartwarming hidden gem out in the wild—a statue of Queen Victoria's collie dog, called Noble.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest