Remembering the time Queen Elizabeth sent the most powerful feminist message in her classic subtle style while at Balmoral

With the Royal Family pictured at Balmoral for the first time since the late Queen died, we revisit one of our favourite stories

The late Queen Elizabeth II loved Balmoral - and one of her most iconic feminist moments took place there
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Royal Family have joined King Charles and Queen Camilla on their first summer holiday in Balmoral since the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II. With the family gathering in the late Queen’s favourite Scottish residence, we revisit a story that summed up Her Majesty’s feisty spirit while at Balmoral, her happy place.

It’s going to be a bittersweet few days for the royals as they get used to their first summer holiday without Queen Elizabeth.

The family have all reunited in Balmoral – thought to be the late Queen’s happy place – to continue her long-held tradition of having the family summer together.

In pictures obtained by MailOnline, the King and Queen have been joined by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, plus the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the former queen’s Lady-in-Waiting.

The Royal Family have reunited in Balmoral for the first time since the Queen died there in September 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the family look ahead to making new memories together, we can’t help but reminisce about one of the best anecdotes to come from the Queen’s time at Balmoral, and it involves her sending the ultimate feminist message.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles was given a private audience with the queen when he was appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2003, and he revealed how the Queen’s first meeting with the Crown Prince went in 1998.

Writing for the Sunday Times, he explained how the Queen subtly hazed the Crown Prince and sent a message for women everywhere.

Queen Elizabeth sent a feminist message with her skilled driving during a state visit at Balmoral

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He explained, “After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate… an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women [were not yet] allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

And this is where the story, in Sir Sherard’s words, becomes “too funny not to repeat.”

“His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”

The then-Princess Elizabeth picked up her driving skills serving during WWII

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, Her Majesty didn’t just want to prove that women could drive – but they could drive incredibly well. To military precision, in fact.

Which should be no surprise. As Princess Elizabeth, the teenager’s wartime driving was described as outstanding as she became the first female royal to serve in active service.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.