The Queen gave Kate Middleton this special privilege at Balmoral

Visiting Balmoral is important to any Royal Family newcomer, and the Queen gave Kate Middleton a special privilege to make her feel more welcome

Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth II
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty)

The Queen reportedly allowed Kate Middleton to take photos during her first visit to Balmoral. One royal expert believes this rare gesture was to welcome Kate into the family. 

When Kate Middleton was invited to the Queen's Scottish retreat before her marriage to Prince William, a new book claims the Queen offered a sweet gesture to make her feel at ease.

Meeting the in-laws and your partner’s family is always going to be intimidating, but when you’re dating a member of the Royal Family, intimidating becomes downright nerve-wracking.

Fortunately for the now Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was given a warm reception by Prince William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.  

Kate Middleton

(Image credit: CHRIS JACKSON/AFP via Getty Images)

According to author and royal commentator Katie Nicholl, Queen Elizabeth gave Kate rare permission to take photos while at Balmoral, knowing how much Kate loved photography.

Kate first visited Balmoral Castle in 2009, two years before her wedding to Prince William.

Though a small gesture, the Queen allowing Kate to take photos was a huge step in welcoming her to the fold, Katie Nicholl explains.

In her book, Kate: The Future Queen, she writes, "Until now the Queen had met Kate only fleetingly at the wedding of Peter and Autumn Phillips, but she went out of her way to make her feel welcome, giving her permission to take pictures at Balmoral."

She added, "As a woman who has lived her entire life in the public eye, the Queen rarely lets her guard down, and very few apart from her family and closest friends get to see the real Elizabeth."

What is Balmoral?

Balmoral Castle is situated in Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The estate has been in the royal family for over a century; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased it in 1852.

Photograph of Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh and their children at Balmoral Castle.

(Image credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

There was an original castle on the grounds built in the 15th century, but the royal couple had a new one built about a hundred yards north, designed by architect William Smith, with construction completed in 1856.

Why is Balmoral so important?

The Queen stays at Balmoral for her summer holiday each year and is in currently in residence there.

Over the course of her stay, which usually extends into September, the Queen invites family members to stay with her and they take part in a range of outdoor pursuits.

The royals are said to love going on walks around the estate's 50,000 acres as well as enjoying picnics and barbecues.

On the programme Our Queen at 90, Princess Eugenie said of the estate’s importance to the Queen, "It's the most beautiful place on earth. 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, and people coming in and out all the time.”

What is the Balmoral Test?

The Balmoral Test is a long-rumoured initiation given when people are invited to spend a weekend with the Royals.

Anyone from new partners, to the Prime Minister are invited to spend time with the Queen at Balmoral, and their behavior is closely scrutinized.

The Balmoral test was famously alluded to in season 4 of Netflix’s The Crown where Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) struggled to make the right impression.

Thatcher's onscreen experience at Balmoral seems to be partially based on truth.

The Prime Minister apparently didn't have proper shoes for an outing on the grounds, leading her to borrow wellies, like she did on the show, for a walk in the rain.

According to one biographer, the Iron Lady described weekends at Balmoral as "purgatory."

So, not everyone gets the same happy experience Kate got...