queen balmoral

Why the Queen won't be able to eat grouse this year at Balmoral

It's the second year grouse has been off the menu…

Jenni McKnight

The Queen has received some disappointing news which is likely to dampen her summer holiday in Balmoral – grouse shooting has been cancelled! One of her Majesty's favourite past-times has been put on hold due to a shortage of birds in the Scottish Highlands. The extreme weather and an outbreak of heather beetle, which has decimated food supplies that the red grouse depend on, are said to be the reasons behind the decision to cancel the activity on the monarch's 50,000-acre estate in Aberdeenshire.

Grouse shooting is a big draw for the royals, with Prince Charles and Prince Andrew regularly partaking in the activity during the grouse season, which began Monday on the Glorious 12th and is due to end on 10 December. Prince Philip no longer shoots after having a heart stent fitted several years ago, but other members of the royal family, including Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, have enjoyed the sport over the years. A spokeswoman for the estate confirmed that there would be no shooting. She said: "Grouse populations are cyclical and to retain and preserve stock there will be no grouse shooting this year. And that happens periodically."

Grouse shooting has been cancelled this year

This is the second year in a row that the Queen's plans have been affected by a shortage of grouse, with last year seeing the worst shortage in over a decade. Half of the grouse shoots across England and Wales cancelled their entire 2018 shooting programmes after a harsh winter and hot summer created poor breeding conditions.

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Last year, the Queen's former chef Darren McGrady told HELLO!: "I was at Balmoral Castle last week and was talking to a friend who works on the estate. He was telling me that the hot weather had killed so many chicks the shoots had been cut back. Grouse season started on Monday. Sunday was officially the 'glorious twelfth' but you can't shoot on a Sunday in Scotland. The first official grouse shoot is this Friday."

This is the second year a grouse shortage has affected the Queen's summer holiday

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Darren, who worked for Her Majesty for 11 years before cooking for Princess Diana for four, added: "The Queen loves grouse. It will be on the Balmoral menu for the next two months. Most of the time it was served as roast grouse with game chips, bread sauce and redcurrant jelly." Unfortunately, it seems that there may have to be a quick change of menu for the new season.

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