Culture

Traveling With the Oscars

by Matthew Link

The Flick: The Queen (2006)

Oscar Nods: Winner for Best Actress (Helen Mirren); six nominations total

The Setting: London and the Scottish Highlands

Lair of the Ice Queen: Love Liz or loathe Liz, QE II gets it royally in The Queen. In addition to Helen Mirren's frosty but oh-so-human portrayal of Her Dysfunctional Majesty in the aftermath of Diana's death in 1997, the film also nails how high on the hog the royals live at the expense of British taxpayers. Visitors to London can get a glimpse of their lavish existence at Elizabeth's fly crib, Buckingham Palace. The State Rooms, open to the public every August and September, are where Her Highness whoops it up with other bigwigs, taking care not to damage the Rembrandts or Rubenses hanging on the walls. The same months the masses are gawking at Buck House, the Queen is usually chilling at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where (at least in director Stephen Frears's depiction) she watches telly, argues with snotty Prince Philip, gets her Land Rover stuck in riverbeds, and generally avoids the harsh political realities of London. You can visit Balmoral's grounds and ballroom on certain circumscribed days (see below), but sleepovers aren't an option. Instead, rent a nearby cottage in the adjoining Cairngorms, Britain's largest national park, and join a Land Rover safari through its moody pine forests and moors—without all the bloody pomp and circumstance.

State Rooms of Buckingham Palace
Tel: 44 20 7766 7300
Open August–September

Balmoral Castle
Tel: 44 13397 42534
Grounds and ballroom open April–July, and on Wednesdays from November through early December
Cottage rentals from $585 to $2,400 a week
Land Rover luxury safaris, $88

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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