Prince William returned to Scotland to make a personal pilgrimage back to Balmoral for the first time since the funeral of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The Prince of Wales is thought to have spent a weekend at Craigowan Lodge, which was one of Her Majesty’s favourite boltholes on the Scottish estate and was used on less formal occasions, where he went deer stalking.
It would have been a bittersweet reunion for the first in line to the throne, who was last in Scotland just over a month ago as he rushed to be by the Queen’s side as she died on the 50,000-acre estate on September 8.
A source told the Daily Mail’s Richard Eden: ‘He stayed at Craigowan Lodge, where Her Majesty used to stay. He was there just for the weekend.’
By stalking deer the Prince follows in the footsteps of both his grandmother and his grandfather, Prince Philip, who introduced him and his brother Harry to it while they were boys.
Deer stalking is the act of culling ageing stags that would otherwise die in the winter, with William shooting his first when he was 14 years old, something that is said to have left him delighted at the time.
The activity, which has been a shared passion among generations of the Royal Family, was encouraged by William’s father King Charles III, while Princess Diana used to jokingly call him ‘my killer Wales’.
William is not thought to have been joined in Scotland by his wife Catherine, who is herself a keen markswoman, and their children. A spokesman for Kensington Palace declined to comment.
His return to the Scottish estate would have brought back memories for the Prince, with it being just over a month ago that he and other members of the Royal Family rushed to reach the Queen’s side as her health failed.
William flew up to Scotland in the company of his uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, but they, along with Prince Harry who made his own way there, were unable to reach Balmoral before Her Majesty died.
Prince William is said to have gone deer stalking in Balmoral over the weekend. Pictured: The Prince of Wales (left) with his father Charles (centre) and younger brother Harry (right) in Balmoral when he was teenager
The Prince of Wales was introduced to deer stalking by his grandfather Prince Philip, and his grandmother was a keen supporter of the activity. Pictured: Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral in 1972
It is the first time William has returned to Scotland since the Queen’s funeral last month. Pictured: Prince William (left) drives a car containing Prince Andrew (second left), the Countess of Wessex (second right) and Prince Edward (right) into Balmoral after his grandmother’s death
William is said to have stayed at Craigowan Lodge in Balmoral, which was one of the Queen’s favourite boltholes. Pictured: Craigowan Lodge
The Prince of Wales has been undetaking his royal duties since the death of his grandmother last month. Pictured: William waves to the crowd during a visit to Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland on Thursday, October 6
Prince William and his brother Harry were introduced to hunting by their grandfather and their interest in the activity was encouraged by their father. Pictured: William and Harry at Balmoral when they were younger
The Prince of Wales, along with his wife, then took a key role in the days of national mourning that followed the Queen’s passing at the age of 96 on September 8.
And since then he has undetaken numerous visits as part of his royal duties, including visits to Wales and Northern Ireland, where he and Catherine were both met with large crowds of adoring fans.
The couple fulfilled a number of engagements with cross-community organisations that provide support to people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland last week.
They began with a visit to suicide prevention charity PIPS in north Belfast.
Lord mayor Tina Black and Sinn Fein MP for the constituency John Finucane were among those who welcomed the royal couple on arrival.
Inside, 12-year-old Elyse Quinn, the daughter of the charity’s executive director Renee Quinn, presented the princess with a bouquet of flowers.
During their visit, William and Kate spoke with staff about their work helping people at risk of suicide and self-harm.
The charity also arranged for them to take part in an art therapy session, painting pumpkins, with some vulnerable children who have been supported by PIPS.
After the visit to PIPS, the couple travelled into Belfast city centre to view Trademarket, a new outdoor street-food and retail market where they took part in a spirited cocktail making race.
After William was declared winner, the couple heard more about the Trademarket enterprise which transformed a previously vacant site, aiming to showcase new businesses while also increasing footfall in a less visited area.
The Prince’s journey up north came days before the couple announced they had recorded a special programme for BBC Radio One’s Newsbeat to mark World Mental Health Day.
The pair’s discussion about the importance of mental health will be broadcast on Tuesday, with the Princess of Wales telling listeners ‘Newsbeat will sound slightly different’ tomorrow.
The Prince of Wales then said: ‘As part of World Mental Health Day, Catherine and I have recorded a special programme taking over the radio to talk about the importance of mental health.’
William added that they will talk about mental health toolboxes which can provide people with coping skills and resources to alleviate anxiety and depression.
The Prince and Princess of Wales (pictured with Emma Hardwell, Ben Cowley, Antonio Ferreria, Dr Abigail Miranda and Pria Rai) have recorded a special programme for BBC Radio One’s Newsbeat to mark World Mental Health Day
William and Kate announced on Monday’s Newsbeat show that their discussion (pictured) on the importance of mental health will be broadcast on Tuesday
‘A toolbox is quite a useful analogy to use. A lot of people don’t realise what they need until it comes along,’ said the father-of-three.
He added: ‘You could be living one life one minute and something massively changes and you realise you don’t necessarily have the tools or the experience to be able to tackle that.’
Kate also told listeners that she would ‘love to know’ how they look after their own mental health, which was followed by a guest then explaining to the royal couple his approach.
‘There’s no right or wrong, that’s the thing as well. Different things will work for different people,’ she said.
The full show, recorded on World Mental Health Day at Radio 1’s Live Lounge, airs on Tuesday on Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network.
During the pre-recorded programme, the prince and princess also discussed the stigmas around mental health and the pressures of social media, according to the BBC.
William said the royal couple wanted to ‘have a meaningful conversation about mental health,’ while his wife Kate added: ‘The first step for all of us is to keep having those conversations and keep reaching out for help.’