Long before becoming a phenomenon, Kate Middleton had to pass the royal family’s “initiation” with the Balmoral test. What a royal author said about her 2009 visit to the Scottish retreat and what “quickly became clear” to staff about the now-Princess of Wales.
What is the Balmoral test?
Before diving into Kate’s Balmoral test, a brief description of what it is. Firstly, Balmoral, located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is where the late Queen Elizabeth II spent the summer months. A cherished royal residence, it’s also the place where the monarch died in September 2022.
The Balmoral test is what newcomers go through when they visit the estate for the first time. However, Omid Scobie, BAZAAR.com’s Royal Editor at Large, would “call it more of a royal initiation.”
“If you’ve scored an invite, prepare to brush up on your royal protocol, have a wealth of talking points at the ready, an outfit for EVERY occasion (from hunting to black tie),” he said (via Harper’s Bazaar). “And, most importantly, be on your best behavior at all times. Social etiquette is a must!”
“If you don’t like the food, eat it anyway. If you don’t like trampling through the Highlands in the wind and rain, tough! Unlike a visit to Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, this is the queen’s private residence and a front row seat within her inner sanctum. You are entering her space and whatever she does goes.”
Kate Middleton looked ‘perfectly at home’ at Balmoral, according to book
Royal author Christopher Andersen shared details of Kate’s Balmoral test in his book, William and Kate: A Royal Love Story. The Princess of Wales, he noted, first went to Balmoral in 2009, two years before marrying the now-Prince of Wales and a year after her parents received a shooting weekend invite.
The trip to Scotland wasn’t simply a fun getaway, Andersen explained. “It was one thing to be asked to accompany Wills on club-hopping excursions in London and Edinburgh. It was quite another to be invited to Balmoral, which William’s great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria called ‘this dear Paradise.’”
“By all accounts, Kate was the first girl Wills ever brought to Balmoral,” the author continued. “In a large part because, said a royal insider, ‘He must have known how much she would love it.’”
Indeed, Kate seemed to excel at her Balmoral test. “As Kate stood on the riverbank angling for salmon, trout and pike, it quickly became clear to one member of the Balmoral staff that she seemed ‘perfectly at home here,’” Andersen said.
“Princess Diana looked like she could hardly wait to leave when she came,” the staffer told the author. “But Miss Middleton is a perfect fit. We said to ourselves, ‘The Queen is going to like this one.’”
Princess Diana, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother passed the Balmoral test, others have not
As depicted in The Crown Season 4, not everyone passes the Balmoral test. Former Prime Minster Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, didn’t pass, Scobie said. Nor did former Prime Minister Boris Johnson or former King Edward VIII’s wife, Wallis Simpson.
As for those who have passed, they include the likes of Princess Diana, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother, just to name a few.
Every detail may be scrutinized, even down to what’s in a guest’s suitcase. For this reason, according to the Finding Freedom author, guests simultaneously “keen to impress” and “worried about being judged” may even pack all new items. That way, “absolutely nothing can be judged and no negative word can get back to the queen.”
“Despite all the talk of it being a ‘test,’ the queen is also at her most laid back during summers at Balmoral,” Scobie added. “Her Majesty will always go out of her way to make every guest feel welcome and at home. You will be included in the family barbecues, part of every meal and, if you’re lucky enough, get to play with the queen’s dogs.”
Source: Cheat Sheet
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