The Queen in 1959

Queen Elizabeth II: the most travelled monarch in history

The Queen famously never had a passport. Granted in her name to British citizens, the Queen did not need to provide herself with the document in order to travel.

If The Queen had had a passport however, it would have been filled to the brim with stamps detailing her travels which spanned over seven decades of her reign.

The most travelled monarch in history

The Queen was the most travelled monarch in history. She represented the United Kingdom on over 260 official visits and travelled at least 1,032,513 miles on her tours, the equivalent to 42 trips around the earth. 

The average Briton has visited seven countries in their lifetime; during her reign, The Queen visited over 120. 

TRAVELS: Queen Elizabeth II was the most travelled monarch in history, visiting more than half of all countries in the world.

Charles Anson was The Queen’s Press Secretary from 1990-97 and accompanied her on all official visits during this period.

Anson said: “The visibility of the Queen abroad is so important for the peoples of different countries. 

“Whether people live under monarchies or whether they have toppled them, time and again I saw that people couldn’t help but have an affection for the Queen and the values that she embodied when they met her.”

Seeing is believing

The Queen’s extensive travels are, for Anson, symbolic of the attitude she expressed time and again throughout her reign: she had to be seen to be believed. 

As monarch, the Queen saw travel as an important tool to develop Britain’s relationship in a globalised world.

Britain’s close relationships with nations such as Canada and Australia are clear from the frequency of the Queen’s visits, who travelled to the countries 27 and 18 times respectively during the course of her reign. 

But The Queen’s visits were not limited to major nations or those established on the international stage. Other visits, such as her 1982 trip to the eight square-mile Pacific island of Nauru- the world’s smallest island country- displayed the Queen’s commitment to the Commonwealth and to enhancing Britain’s relationship with the wider world, no matter how small. 

Touring the globe

The 1953 Commonwealth Tour, the first the Queen made after her coronation, saw her visit 13 countries and travel over 44,000 miles in seven months. 

For Anson, this aspect of the Queen’s travel will never be seen again.

“Traditions are changing, and I don’t think we will ever see travel in the way that The Queen did again, in terms of tours and the length of time she was away for.” 

Making history

Close to home and further afield, the Queen made history as the first British monarch to visit a number of countries throughout her reign. 

The Queen’s landmark visits to China in 1986 and to Hungary in 1993 represented the first time any British monarch had officially visited either nation, and was a decisive moment in the history of relations between both countries and the UK. 

Historic visits were also made closer to home in 2011 when the Queen became the first British monarch in a century to visit the Republic of Ireland, cementing the 1998 Good Friday agreement between the two nations. 

End of an era

The Queen made her last trip abroad to Malta 2015 accompanied by Prince Philip. 

Although she Queen continued to receive state visits from other countries until her death, her final visit abroad was a poignant end to seven decades of travel for the monarch.

Malta held a number of fond memories for the Queen as she spent three years in the country with Prince Philip, who was stationed there as a naval officer.

“This was a particularly treasured time for the Queen, who thoroughly enjoyed her time in Malta before her coronation,” said Anson.

“I can’t think of a more fitting end to a lifetime of travel and service to her country.”

The Queen’s record-breaking reign saw her travel to more countries than any other British monarch in history, and represented Britain in some countries for the first time in history. This extensive travel both within and outside of the Commonwealth spanned across her seven-decade long reign, the likes of which we may never see again.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

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