Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip | The Balmoral Castle | Source: Getty Images

For the first time in decades, the historic Balmoral Castle is unlocking its majestic doors to the public. Visitors are invited to embark on a guided journey through the opulent rooms and sprawling grounds of this royal retreat.

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For the first time since its completion in 1855, Balmoral Castle is offering private tours. The castle grounds, gardens, and exhibitions will be open to the public every day. The tours start on May 4 through Sunday, August 11.

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They will also access the Mews Gift Shop and Cafe. The visitors can also relax in the recently renovated restaurant. There, they will enjoy afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, and/or cakes. Also on offer will be classic, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals.

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For nature lovers, the visit will offer views of some special residents — the red squirrels who will feature on the live cameras. The tickets grant access to explore the extensive grounds and gardens.

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These facilities will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the last recommended admission at 4:00 p.m. The tickets, each going for £150 (approximately $187.37), were sold out within 24 hours of the announcement. But just what will the visitors expect of the tour?

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The Balmoral Castle in Scotland has been home to the Royal Family since Prince Albert and Queen Victoria purchased it in 1852. Initially, visitors were only allowed to visit the ballroom and castle grounds.

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Now, the tour promises a chance to travel through time from the Victorian era to the present day. The tours will be conducted before the King and Queen’s arrival at the Castle for their summer vacation.

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The royal visits every summer are a long-standing tradition. Queen Elizabeth II spend every summer there. Now, King Charles and Queen Camilla have taken on and visited in the summer of 2023.

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King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend divine service at Crathie Church, Balmoral on September 3, 2023 in Aberdeen, Scotland | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend divine service at Crathie Church, Balmoral on September 3, 2023 in Aberdeen, Scotland | Source: Getty Images

While alive, the Queen did a splendid job of keeping it as private as possible. Still, it has been the grounds for the filming of “The Crown” season four. It is also said to have been the Queen’s favorite place. There, she enjoyed hosting slumber parties in her twilight years.

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The estate is situated on the right bank of the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is close to the town of Ballater. It also borders the Lochnagar Mountain, a favored destination for hikers.

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It boasts a Scottish baronial architectural style and features many rooms. However, some are particularly noteworthy, like the ballroom. It reflects a classic Scottish Highlands decor with its large chandeliers, mounted stag heads, and trefoil patterns.

The Ballroom, Balmoral Castle, Scotland. Illustration from The Life & Times of Queen Victoria, by Robert Wilson, Vol III | Source: Getty Images

The Ballroom, Balmoral Castle, Scotland. Illustration from The Life & Times of Queen Victoria, by Robert Wilson, Vol III | Source: Getty Images

During Queen Victoria’s time, the rooms were decorated with plaid fabrics. They also boasted patterned wallpapers, lots of carved wood furniture and framed landscapes.

The dining room at Queen Victoria's royal residence at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, circa 1870 | Source: Getty Images

The dining room at Queen Victoria’s royal residence at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, circa 1870 | Source: Getty Images

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Candelabras were common, serving as essential lighting. Prince Albert’s study was similarly styled. It had plaid carpets and white floral fabrics against green wallpaper.

Balmoral Castle Study | Source: Getty Images

Balmoral Castle Study | Source: Getty Images

He preferred the Castle’s interiors to highlight Highland elements like tartans and decorative chintzes. He complemented these with trophies and weapons on the walls. The Castle also features marble fireplaces topped with mirrors, chairs with pleated skirts, and shelves filled with leather-bound books.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in the study at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, 26th September 1976 | Source: Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in the study at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, 26th September 1976 | Source: Getty Images

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It boasts grand clocks and classic light fixtures. But modern amenities like flat-screen TVs are also present. Queen Elizabeth had her own study, carpeted in the distinctive plaid pattern typical of the 1970s.

Drawing room in Balmoral Castle, circa 1885 | Source: Getty Images

Drawing room in Balmoral Castle, circa 1885 | Source: Getty Images

This room is furnished with elegant wooden pieces and floral curtains draping over bay windows. The grounds showcase a water garden, a vegetable garden, a floral walkway. It also has a statue of Queen Victoria’s beloved dog, Noble.

A statue of Queen Victoria's dog, Noble | Source: Getty Images

A statue of Queen Victoria’s dog, Noble | Source: Getty Images

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Besides its historical significance to the Royal Family, the estate also holds sentimental value. That’s where Queen Elizabeth III spent her last days and eventually breathed her last.

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However, the story of the cairn is just as fascinating as it is sentimental. Set atop Craig Lowrigan Hill, it features beautiful views of the surroundings. It can also be spotted from a great distance. It was constructed in memory of Prince Albert, only months after his death.

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The cairn stands at 35 feet in height and 40 feet wide. Some of the foundation stones were laid by Queen Victoria and some of her children.

Queen Victoria with her family, circa 1895 | Source: Getty Images

Queen Victoria with her family, circa 1895 | Source: Getty Images

They bear their initials and an inscription that reads, “TOTHE BELOVED MEMORY OF ALBERT, THE GREAT AND GOOD: PRINCE CONSORT, ERECTED BY HIS BROKEN-HEARTED WIDOW, VICTORIA. R. 21ST AUGUST 1862.”

Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901) and Prince Albert (1819 - 1861), five years after their marriage | Source: Getty Images

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) and Prince Albert (1819 – 1861), five years after their marriage | Source: Getty Images

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It continues, “HE, BEING MADE PERFECT IN A SHORT TIME, FULFILLED A LONG TIME, FOR HIS SOUL PLEASED THE LORD, THEREFORE HASTED HE TO TAKE HIM AWAY FROM AMONG THE WICKED. WISDOM OF SOLOMON, CHAP IV. VERSES 13 AND 14.”

Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, at Buckingham Palace | Source: Getty Images

Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, at Buckingham Palace | Source: Getty Images

The cairn stands as a sober memorial to Prince Albert. His widow’s heartfelt words that reflect her deep sorrow and enduring love. In contrast, the castle itself harbors stories of a different nature.

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According to a former butler at Balmoral, Grant Harrold, the cellars of the castle tell a story not of love but of eerie encounters. Described as spooky and haunted, these cellars, steeped in the history of the estate, are said to reflect the mysterious remnants of the past.

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He recalled how he would go down to the cellar and would hear things moving around. “You would have bowls and chairs that would move,” he recounted.

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This was, however, one of many instances he says spooked him out. Another recollection was of a time when he went down to the cellar with the housekeeper, and they heard a little boy giggling.

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The legend goes that one of the cellars initially used to be a well. A small boy fell, drowned, and was buried at a local churchyard. Since then there have been stories of his ghost haunting the cellar. Still, he attributes these paranormal happenings to the fact that many other deaths have happened at the castle.

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Besides the late Queen, some of the cottages at Balmoral have also housed some of her grandchildren. Prince William, his wife and kids previously stayed at one of them. However, as the Princess of Wales recovers from cancer, she chose to stay at Windsor’s Adelaide Cottage, as previously reported on April 2, 2024.

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In the quaint embrace of Windsor’s Adelaide Cottage, Princess Catherine, Prince William and their three children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—forge moments far removed from the public eye. They moved to the 200-year-old pink dwelling in 2022, in search of privacy, but it has now become her haven as she recovers from cancer.

Prince George, Princess Catherine, Prince Louis, Prince William and Princess Charlotte arriving at Lambrook School in Bracknell, England on September 7, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

Prince George, Princess Catherine, Prince Louis, Prince William and Princess Charlotte arriving at Lambrook School in Bracknell, England on September 7, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

Nestled within the serene expanses of Windsor Home Park, the 655-acre estate offers a stark contrast to the family’s previous residence at Kensington Palace. The cottage’s charm, history, and “domestic” architecture underscore a lineage of royal occupants that traces back to its construction in 1831 as a summer retreat for Queen Adelaide.

A picture of Kensington Palace in London, England on March 23, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

A picture of Kensington Palace in London, England on March 23, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

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With its picturesque grounds and close proximity to the Lambrook School—where the Wales children are students—and stables for their equestrian pursuits, Adelaide Cottage provides an ideal backdrop for the family’s endeavors towards a semblance of normal life amid trying times.

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The public’s reaction to the family’s choice of residence during this challenging period has been overwhelmingly supportive, with people praising the move for its discretion and simplicity. One fan praised, “I think their move to Adelaide Cottage was a smart move. No servants live with [them]. No leaks.”

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One comment from a social media user seemed to poke fun at the Prince and Princess’s living quarters: “So, the @RoyalFamily exiled the [Sussexes] to Frogmore. But, since they bring their star power everywhere they go… the place is now cool to live at… & of course, @KensingtonRoyal had to copy it because that’s all they know how to do 😂#MonkeySeeMonkeyDo.”

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However, the majority leaned in favor of the residence with another fan stating, “The fact that Catherine & William were happy at the little cottage speaks volumes. They wanted their privacy together – a lot like now in Adelaide Cottage. I wish them both every happiness.”

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Downsizing from the grandeur of Kensington Palace to a more intimate setting marked a significant lifestyle shift for the Prince and Princess of Wales. Despite the logistical adjustments, which included the relocation of their trusted nanny, Maria Borrallo, the Cambridges embraced this change, finding solace in Windsor’s tranquility.

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The move not only brought them closer to nature and Princess Catherine’s parents but also signified a commitment to providing a grounded upbringing for their children away from the limelight.

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With its narratives of architectural reuse and royal legacies, Adelaide Cottage encapsulates a blend of public heritage and private comfort. Its close to significant royal landmarks, including the nearby Frogmore Cottage and the main Windsor Castle.

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Before settling in Adelaide Cottage, Princess Catherine lived in a variety of homes that reflected her journey from an ordinary civilian to the Duchess of Cambridge with each residence marking a significant chapter in her life.

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Bucklebury Manor—her childhood home—grounded her in a setting of familial warmth while St Salvator’s Hall was the place where she experienced university life, and where love blossomed between her and Prince William amid the hall’s gothic splendor.

Prince William and Princess Catherine during a visit to Centrepoint's Camberwell Foyer in London, England on December 21, 2011 | Source: Getty Images

Prince William and Princess Catherine during a visit to Centrepoint’s Camberwell Foyer in London, England on December 21, 2011 | Source: Getty Images

Old Church Street in Chelsea served as her post-graduate haven—shared with her sister Pippa Middleton—offering a glimpse into her life before royal engagements took precedence. Her temporary abode at Bodorgan Hall on the Anglesey coast allowed for a private retreat while Prince William served with the RAF.

Princess Catherine and Pippa Middleton at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, England on July 13, 2019 | Source: Getty Images

Princess Catherine and Pippa Middleton at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, England on July 13, 2019 | Source: Getty Images

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1A Kensington Palace, which boasted 20 rooms, signified her full embrace into the royal fold while Anmer Hall, a 10-bedroom Georgian mansion, was a gift from the late Queen Elizabeth II.

A picture of Kensington Palace in London, England on March 12, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

A picture of Kensington Palace in London, England on March 12, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

Aside from the vast past residences she has lived in, Adelaide Cottage emerges as a safe space for the beloved royal to undergo treatment as she bravely faces her health challenge.

Besides being her safe haven, the cottage is also a serene place the Princess can spend time with her loves ones. She was spotted with her mom near Windsor where she is recovering from her abdominal surgery, as we previously reported on March 5, 2024.

Carole Middleton and Princess Catherine at the Royal Ascot in Ascot, England on June 20, 2017 | Source: Getty Images

Carole Middleton and Princess Catherine at the Royal Ascot in Ascot, England on June 20, 2017 | Source: Getty Images

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Amidst curiosity and concern for Princess Catherine’s health, the Palace assured the public of her steady progress, kindly requesting privacy during this time. However, people were still relieved to see pictures of the Princess near Windsor accompanied by her mother, after she was spotted for the first time in over two months since her surgery.

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On Monday, near Windsor Castle, the Princess of Wales was seen sitting in the passenger seat of a black Audi SUV. Her mom, Carole Middleton, was driving, she looked relaxed, simply focusing on the road ahead. Trying to maintain her privacy, Princess Kate wore black sunglasses and let her hair down.

The palace announced that the Princess would be “unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter,” which falls on March 31st this year. Until then, it seems like the Princess has decided to reside in their family’s residence, Adelaide Cottage in Windsor.

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Windsor Castle, Windsor, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

Windsor Castle, Windsor, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

Adelaide Cottage, nestled within the serene Windsor estate, is a perfect example of a quieter, more intimate side of royal living. Chosen by Prince William and his wife, this residence offers a stark contrast to their bustling London base at Kensington Palace.

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The cottage, nearly 200 years old, is a perfect balance between elegance and simplicity. With classic marble fireplaces and a dignified facade, it is known for its historical charm.

The house offers the Cambridges a serene and private hidden place surrounded by nature. Away from busy loud London, and close to the Middleton children’s school, it is a perfect place to recover.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

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As previously reported on February 29, 2024:

It’s been over two months since the Princess of Wales was last seen in public during the royal family’s traditional Christmas morning service at Sandringham last year.

Following this, Kensington Palace announced on January 17, 2024, that the Princess was admitted to the hospital for “planned abdominal surgery,” necessitating a period of rest. Consequently, Princess Catherine’s public engagements have been paused, with expectations set for her return to royal duties after Easter.

Catherine, Princess of Wales attending the Christmas morning service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Catherine, Princess of Wales attending the Christmas morning service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

During her last public appearance before the surgery, the Princess was seen walking to the St. Mary Magdalene Church in the royal family’s estate in Norfolk, England. She was among royal family members, including Prince William and their three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

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A close-up of Catherine, Princess of Wales beaming during the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

A close-up of Catherine, Princess of Wales beaming during the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Photos from the Christmas service showed the Princess in a festive mood as she walked hand-in-hand with her family, greeted spectators, and strolled alongside King Charles III.

Princess Charlotte, Prince William, Prince George, Prince Louis, Mia Tindall and Princess Catherine attending the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Princess Charlotte, Prince William, Prince George, Prince Louis, Mia Tindall and Princess Catherine attending the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

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The Princess of Wales was photographed smiling walking alongside her children and Mia Tindall, with Prince William trailing behind. At one point, the Princess was captured greeting spectators while carrying a bouquet of roses.

Catherine, Princess of Wales walking hand-in-hand with Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall at the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Catherine, Princess of Wales walking hand-in-hand with Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall at the Christmas morning service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

For the holiday occasion, Princess Catherine was elegantly dressed in a long, vibrant blue coat by Alexander McQueen, meticulously tailored with a cinched waist and pronounced shoulders, complemented by a deep blue turtleneck sweater underneath.

She paired her striking coat with dark blue suede knee-high boots, featuring a sleek block heel and pointed toe.

Catherine, Princess of Wales greeting the crowd as she carried a bouquet of roses on the way to the Christmas morning service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Catherine, Princess of Wales greeting the crowd as she carried a bouquet of roses on the way to the Christmas morning service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

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Her attire was further enhanced by a chic fascinator adorned with a bold bow and crossed arrows, set against her elegantly styled half-up, half-down hair.

Paying homage to Princess Diana, she completed her look with the late Princess’s iconic sapphire and diamond drop earrings.

Catherine, Princess of Wales at the Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Catherine, Princess of Wales at the Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

At one point, she was photographed smiling as she walked behind King Charles III and held Pince Louis’ hand during their stroll.

The youngest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales coordinated with his mother in blue-and-green plaid trousers, a navy double-breasted coat, and black loafers.

Prince Louis of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales and King Charles III at the Christmas morning service on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Prince Louis of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales and King Charles III at the Christmas morning service on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

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The future queen was also captured walking hand-in-hand with Princess Charlotte, who donned an olive green double-breasted coat with a blue-and-green plaid skirt, navy tights, and glossy black ballet flats, her hair styled loosely with subtle braids.

The Princess of Wales and her daughter Princess Charlotte at the Christmas morning service at the church in Sandringham on December 25, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

The Princess of Wales and her daughter Princess Charlotte at the Christmas morning service at the church in Sandringham on December 25, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Prince George and Prince William matched in navy suits and white shirts. While George wore a blue tie speckled with white, his father paired his suit with a teal tie.

The Prince and Princess of Wales with their three children during the festivities on Christmas morning at Sandringham on December 25, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

The Prince and Princess of Wales with their three children during the festivities on Christmas morning at Sandringham on December 25, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

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On January 29, 2024, a spokesperson from Kensington Palace announced that Princess Catherine had been discharged from The London Clinic and would continue her recovery at home in Windsor. “She is making good progress,” the statement assured.

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Kensington Palace expressed gratitude for the support and care provided by the medical staff and the well wishes from around the world. Although specific details of the surgery were not disclosed, it was previously confirmed that the surgery was successful and the condition treated was non-cancerous.

Catherine, Princess of Wales at the Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

Catherine, Princess of Wales at the Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk | Source: Getty Images

At a recent investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, Prince William commented on his wife’s health recovery while stepping in for his father, King Charles III, following the king’s recent cancer diagnosis announcement.

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During the ceremony, Trish Spruce, a recruiter for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, who was being honored with an MBE, revealed in a LinkedIn post that the Prince of Wales expressed his admiration towards two Filipino nurses caring for Catherine. He praised their incredible kindness and dedication.

During Kate’s hospital stay, William put his official duties on hold. He has since returned to resume his engagements after ensuring Kate was comfortably settled in the home they share in Windsor.

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