On Thursday 8th September the world lost an extraordinary lady. To many she was their Queen and to some she was a parent, grandmother and great – grandmother. As the longest reigning Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II achieved amazing things, from a 73 year marriage to Prince Philip (making them the only Royal couple to celebrate their Platinum Anniversary), to being the only Monarch to make the most state visits. She visited a record – breaking 116 countries as Queen and makes this achievement the focus of our article.
1,023,513 - that is the number of miles Queen Elizabeth travelled throughout her reign, which is the equivalent to 42 times around the world. 40,000 of these were travelled by air during her Golden Jubilee year and included places such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Throughout the decades the number of places she travelled to varied. In the 1970s she visited 58 countries making it her busiest decade for international travel. In the 1980’s she took a trip to China for the first time and visited a further 52 countries. This would continue into the 2010s where she eventually took her last overseas trip to Malta in 2015.
From her remarkable achievement, we’re going to look into a few of the countries she visited from each decade to see what they have to offer tourists today.
Kenya – 1952
In 1952, Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were in Kenya standing in for her father, King George VI, on a planned international tour which would include Australia and New Zealand. Little did she know that this would be one of her most poignant trips. Upon her visit she found out her father had sadly died, and that she would become Queen and head of the Commonwealth. It was now her time to step up and be the great leader we came to know and love.
As a travel destination, Kenya offers a variety of memorable choices that visitors will want to keep coming back to. White sandy beaches, swimming in the Indian Ocean, Great Rift Valley, tented camps, safari adventures and a Nairobi City Tour are just some of the amazing opportunities to experience. If you are looking for a relaxing trip, then one of the many beautiful beaches are there to help. Whether it be the Diani Beach for long walks and water sports, Kikambala Beach for local atmosphere or Watamu town for snorkelling and marine life, you will never be short of things to do. The Great Rift Valley, a 7,000km geographical wonder stretching around one-sixth of the Earth's circumference, is home to natural scenery and wildlife. Upon walking and exploring this natural wonder you will be sure to come across volcanoes, Rhinos and Flamingos, something you don’t get to see everyday. You can’t go to Kenya and not do one of their safari tours, it truly is animal paradise. Go on a classic Kenya tour and visit game reserves, local wildlife and get a feel for the culture, or the Amboseli and Tsavo, two iconic destinations with one of the largest conservation areas in the world, offering views of Kilimanjaro and herds of elephants. To finish off your trip why not take the Nairobi city tour where you will be taken on Game drives at the Nairobi National Park or go on a shopping excursion to the city market.
When it comes to accommodation Kenya has plenty to offer, suiting a range of budgets. You have many options including luxury camps, safari lodges, mid - range properties, budget camps and lodges. You can also try something a little more unique where the meaning of “out in the bush” will all become real.
Jamaica - 1966
As Queen of Jamaica, she visited the country in 1966 which was the second of six visits. On every visit she would be represented on the island by a Governor-General on the advice of the Jamaican Prime Minister. On her tour she attended a Civic reception in Charles Square, Montego Bag, Doctor’s Cave Beach, and Lucea Square. The Duke of Edinburgh and elder children Prince Charles and Princess Anne joined her on the tour to open the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth games in Kingston.
Known for its beautiful beaches, music and world’s fastest sprinters, Jamaica gives tourists an experience they will never forget. Explore the island with one of the many tours, whether it be a Jamaica Music Institute tour, rum tour, or a hiking tour in the Blue Mountains, you’ll be able to see the country from every angle. Jamaican food is truly one of the best. Dine in a bamboo hut or eat a homestyle meal, and you don’t want to miss Montego Bay where you can enjoy a variety of cuisines down The Gloucester Avenue ‘Hip Strip.’ Discover the culture with their trademark Reggae sound or the traditions preserved from years ago. Visit one of the many extraordinary beaches which you’ll be sure to adore. Frenchman’s Cove Beach: white sand, turquoise waters and a rainforest enclosed river which flows into the ocean giving beachgoers the opportunity to float at their leisure into the warm ocean. Negril’s seven-mile beach with white sand, glistening water, water sports and sunsets, and what’s even better, the beach never closes, giving visitors a chance to have a midnight swim.
New Zealand – 1970
Queen Elizabeth II toured New Zealand many times during her reign, but her time in 1970 was scheduled for the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s 1770 expedition to Australia. Whilst there, she took a visit to Ship Cove in Marlborough to watch a re-enactment of Cook’s landing, saw a Sea Lion performance at the Marine Parade Pool, viewed a model train in Picton, and met Hon Paki, who at 104 years old, was believed to be the eldest person in New Zealand at the time.
You can experience New Zealand at a height or down on the ground. From wilderness and golden beaches to Mountains and fully immersed culture, it really does have it all. Engage in the Māori culture and embrace the respect of people as they offer you a warm welcome. On your visit you can get involved with the Māori language, Kapa Haka (performing arts), Toi (Māori arts), Haka (War dance), Marae (Māori meeting grounds) and a Powhiri (welcome ceremony). Hike through the vast wilderness and surround yourself in the beautiful scenery, this is certainly the best way to see New Zealand. Tour the North and South Island or National parks and enjoy tailored hikes whether it be short/day walks, great walks, multi-day walks or guided, there is something for all abilities and interests. For something a bit more specific, but worth doing, there is the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings experience. After the first Lord of the Rings film was released, New Zealand became known as ‘Home of Middle Earth.’ If you are a fan of the films, then this tour is perfect. Known for adrenaline and adventure, New Zealand will offer you opportunities like no other. Jet boating, rafting, off road driving, sky diving, you will be taken out your comfort zone, but it will be worth it for the experience.
‘Queen Elizabeth II opening the Beehive, 1977’ - https://bit.ly/3ftI4hT , Archives New Zealand (https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesnz/), Material from Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
China – 1986
Her Majesty visited China in 1986 for six days and became the first British Monarch to visit the country following its open door policy. This was an important trip for her as it signified the strengthening of relationships between Britain and the People’s Republic of China. Whilst on her tour she was given access to the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City. This was her first and only trip to China, and since her historic tour, Prince William became the first member of the Royal Family to visit. He travelled to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xishuangbanna in March 2015.
China is home to several wonders of the world, first being the Great Wall. At 21,196,18km (half the equator) long, this historic monument is more than 2,300 years old. With over 500 world VIPs visiting, including Barak Obama and David Cameron, this is a piece of history you will want to be a part of. Whether it be taking a cable car up or a toboggan down, you can encounter it in so many ways. Have a picnic, go camping, or walk at night where you will see it lit up between the 5th and 6th watchtowers. The Terracotta Army, considered to be one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century and described as the eighth wonder of the world, is a must see. With an incredible backstory and the opportunity to see thousands of life-size soldier models, you will never come across anything like it. When you thought there surely couldn’t be anything more mesmerising, the Forbidden City is one of the five most important palaces in the world and is designed with beautiful Chinese architecture. As you walk around you will see the city gates and high walls for defence, the outer court for ceremonial purposes and the inner court which is the residence for the emperor and his family. Visitors are limited to 80,000 a day making this a must see whilst you’re in Beijing. The different cuisines are something you must try when in China. Chinese chefs have identified eight culinary cuisines which are the best, these include, Cantonese, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Shandong, and many others.
Thailand – 1996
In 1996, the Queen visited Thailand for the second time with Prince Philip, to celebrate the 50th anniversary (Golden Jubilee) of King Bhumibol. Her trip was to both Beijing and Ayutthaya and maintained the close relationship between the two monarchies.
Millions of tourists visit Thailand every year which boasts a number of beautiful beaches and stunning architecture. The Grand Palace in Bangkok offers spectacular architectural design and is a symbol of the Thai Royal Family, now it’s used for ceremonial purposes. Experience the Train Night Market Ratchada or Thong Pha Phum National Park, a conserved park with tropical forest, mountainous landscape and rare wildlife animals. Why not also try one of the many spectacular beaches, whether it be diving and kayaking at Koh Kut and Koh Mak or watching a stunning sunset at Ko Phi Phi Leh.
Singapore – 2006
The 2006 visit to Singapore was one of three trips made by the Queen. Accompanied by then President S R Nathan, she visited the Horse Racing tracks at the Singapore Turf Club and presented a prize to the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. She met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and paid a visit to Toa Payoh HDB estate which she had been to on her first tour in 1972.
Known for being a city that never sleeps and a buzzing atmosphere, you can always get involved with your surroundings. Amongst the liveliness you will have the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in one of the many spas or enjoy a workout at the gym or in a yoga class. Home to Michelin star restaurants, delicacies and international cuisines, Singapore is ideal for foodies. If you are dining locally then you need to try ‘Laksa’ a broth offering a balance of spices and coconut milk, or ‘Chicken Rice’ which is served in almost every dining spot. Dining out will give you the option of Micheline style restaurants, tropical inspired dining or food tours after dark. Do everything and anything in Singapore, hike through the greenery, walk through the busy streets or get your adrenaline up and running, there is always something for you to do.
Malta – 2015
A trip to Malta in 2015 would be the Queen’s last overseas visit. Aged 89, she was joined by her husband Prince Philip, son Prince Charles, and other Commonwealth leaders for the 24th CHOGM meeting. The Queen lived in Malta between 1949 – 1951 shortly before her Coronation, and it was the place other than the UK she called home, which makes it fitting as her last overseas trip.
Clear blue sea, sandy beaches, swim, surf, or kayak, these are one of the many attractions you will want to explore. Indulge in the tasty food and enjoy the flavours of Maltese cuisine which is a mixture of Sicily, Spain and France making it the perfect Mediterranean food experience. Enjoy this at a Michelin star restaurant or through their local produce. Not forgetting the heritage, with 7,000 years of history and culture the Mnajdra Temples, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Grandmasters Palace, and other UNESCO World Heritage sites will let you be part of that history.
These are just some of the 116 countries the Queen visited, she really did see the world and give time to others. She was a leader, mother to all, and icon who will be sorely missed. During her reign, Queen Elizabeth achieved a great deal of things for which she will always be remembered.
Our Queen, Always
‘Queen Elizabeth II, Waitangi (December 28, 1953)’ - https://bit.ly/3DZP7c4 , Archives New Zealand (https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesnz/), Material from Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga, Image is sourced from Communicate New Zealand – National Archives – CNZ Collection, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/