One of the most amusing things which unites British prime ministers of all political stripes is an aversion to their annual mandatory weekend with the Queen every summer at Balmoral.
Margaret Thatcher thought of her jaunts to the Scottish highlands as "purgatory", according to royal biographer Ben Pimlott.
Tony Blair was equally unimpressed, describing his trips as "a vivid combination of the intriguing, the surreal and the utterly freaky". (On the upside, he also described the pre-dinner cocktails as being the strength of "true rocket fuel".)
While the political establishment in London might view the trips to Her Majesty's 50,000-acre Deeside estate with nose-wrinkling horror, it's another matter entirely for the Windsors.
They simply can't get enough of the place.
This week, for the first time since the death of Prince Philip, the Queen's extended family have reportedly joined her in Scotland en masse.
William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived with their three children for a vacation. (Her Majesty arrived at the hulking castle in July for her annual three-month holiday.)
A royal family friend has told Vanity Fair that having her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to stay for the final weekend in August had become a "tradition" and that "in the past it has turned into one big sleepover with lots of the Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her Majesty enjoys it immensely."
All together now: Awww ...
In mid-August, the Queen was seen picnicking at nearby Glen Muick with young children, who, the Daily Mail reports, were either the daughters of Zara Tindall or Peter Phillips.
While it is a very sweet image, there is a sharper converse here because while the monarch gets to spend precious time with the majority of her great-grandchildren, who range in age from 10-year-old Savannah Phillips to 5-month-old Luca Tindall, there are two tiny Windsors who do not seem to have been given this opportunity and maybe never will.
I mean, of course, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's little ones, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.
And that tugs on the heartstrings a tad, doesn't it?
See, while you and I might not exactly think an extended stay in a remote part of Scotland exactly equates to the dream getaway (the weather forecast for this weekend is a top of 16C), not so the royal family.
What Balmoral offers them is not only a tantalisingly facsimile of normality but a chance to spend extended time together as a family, which they only really get during their summer break.
Earlier this year, William said of his childhood memories of Balmoral: "As I grew up I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here and my father is never happier than in walking among the hills.
"My childhood was full of holidays having fun in the fresh air, swimming in lochs, family barbecues with my grandfather in command, and yes the odd midge."
(Blair said of the family's famed all-hands-on-deck barbecues: "You think I'm joking, but I'm not. They put the gloves on and stick their hands in the sink. The Queen asks if you've finished, she stacks the plates up and goes off to the sink.")
But … Her Majesty is 95 years old and despite relatively spritely appearances even she is not immortal. (Well, as far as we know …) Without being too macabre here, there are only a very finite number of years left to create lasting memories with her great-grandchildren.
Memories that Archie and Lili may never get to make.
Yes, the breach between Harry and his family has dominated royal news for years now; the royal story that launched a 1000 headlines.
This year has only seen an escalation in tensions, a dramatic ramping up of how far the former "spare" is willing to go in his seeming quest to sway the world to the righteousness of he and wife Meghan's decision to walk away from royal life.
In light of such a febrile atmosphere, it is understandable (if not downright sensible) that the now-California based Sussexes are hardly champing at the bit to spend their downtime rubbing calamine onto their midge bites and dodging whatever bracing outdoor activity Princess Anne has planned next.
But what about Archie and Lili?
The first (northern) summer after Archie was born, in 2019, Harry and Meghan did not visit Balmoral, as far as anyone is aware. They did, however, spend six days in Ibiza and then enjoyed a mini-break in the South of France, zipping off and returning via private jet each time.
Last year and this year saw the Sussexes settling into their new lives in the United States amid the pandemic – and ditto 2021.
Still, even if travel restrictions or any Covid-related considerables magically disappeared tomorrow, the prospect of the family winging their way back for some quality Gan-Gan time in Scotland is not so much unlikely as downright ludicrous a prospect.
So a consequence of the current Sussex status quo is that while the Queen is enjoying picnics with some of the tiniest Windsors, Harry and Meghan's kidlets have missed out.
Two days after Archie's birth, the bub was photographed being cradled by his mother while a beaming Queen and other family members looked on. In the years since then, it is believed that the monarch has only met the little boy a "handful of times," according to The Times, which has reported that Her Majesty was "very sad" to have seen so little the Sussexes' son.
In fact, Archie has not set a (tiny) foot on UK soil since 2019.
The window for him to get to know his great-grandmother is getting narrower and narrower.
Missing out on being a part of the royal family's summer holidays has other implications. Not only are the Sussex kidlets missing out on getting to spend some quality time with their great-grandmother, but also with their royal cousins.
Like all extended family breaks, Balmoral means hours upon hours for the younger generations to play together and to lay the groundwork for lifelong bonds. The closeness – Wales brother rift aside – that Her Majesty's grandchildren share is one of the bright spots on the otherwise emotionally barren Windsor landscape.
(In 2018, Mike Tindall, who is married to Princess Anne's daughter Zara, revealed that the younger members of the royal family have a WhatsApp group.)
All signs currently point to Archie and Lili growing up without the chance to form those ties to their British relatives. In fact, according to The Times, the first time the Cambridges' kids, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis met their cousin Archie was at a charity polo match two months after he was born.
Who knows where things might stand for the Sussexes, the Queen and the royal family as a whole next summer, given that at some stage during the year Harry's autobiography will hit shelves.
Is there any way back for the self-exiled Duke and Duchess? After the hurt and anger of the past few years, on all sides, can wounds fully ever heal?
One thing which is certain is that Balmoral has always been, and will continue to be, something of a balm for the house of Windsor.
As Queen Victoria wrote of the Scottish retreat after she and husband Prince Albert purchased it in 1852: "All seemed to breathe freedom and peace and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils."
Unfortunately, in 2021, the current Queen has quite a lot of turmoil to try and forget …
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.