Having returned last night from the G20 Summit this past week in St. Petersburg – which proved to be a rather contentious gathering – Prime Minister David Cameron is staying in London this weekend and not travelling to Balmoral.
It has been a long standing tradition that the prime minister of the day (and family, sometimes) would head to the Scottish Highlands for a weekend with Her Majesty, The Duke of Edinburgh and the other Royals in September. The Braemar Gathering and subsequent games are usually the highlight of the weekend with Her Majesty.
For the second year in a row, Mr Cameron is not travelling to Scotland to partake in the weekend, though he is expected to make the trip later in the month. The Prime Minister did not join Her Majesty in 2010 because of the premature birth of his daughter.
Former prime ministers have given mixed reviews on the Balmoral weekend. In 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, wife Sarah and their two sons attended the weekend and were said to have had a pleasurable weekend with Her Majesty. In 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie attended. Mrs. Blair was caught yawning in her seat behind Her Majesty, and provided a somewhat poor review of the events in her memoirs.
The games are not the highlight of the weekend as one would think, however. The best bit seems to be when The Duke of Edinburgh mans the barbecue, and the Royal Family assist in the preparation and service of the meal. This certainly is opposite from the traditional way in which dining with the Royal Family usually takes place. “The Royals cook and serve the guests,” Former Prime Minister Blair writes in his book, A Journey: My Political Life. Blair adds: “They do the washing up. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. They put the gloves on and stick their hands in the sink.”