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Follow Elizabeth’s trips through the decades

She was traveling the moment she ascended to the throne, and for much of the next seven decades, Queen Elizabeth II criss-crossed the world.
Newly married and still just a princess, Britain’s future monarch was in Kenya with husband Prince Philip in February 1952 when she learned of her father’s death and her new regal status.

During her reign she would visit more than 120 countries, witnessing first-hand the revolutions in global travel that shrank the world as her own influence over it diminished.

The Queen lived through the advent of the Jet Age, flew supersonic on the Concorde, saw regimes change, countries form and dissolve, the end of the British Empire and the rise of globalization.

Here are some of the most memorable travel moments from her 70 years as monarch.

    • Less than six months after she was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, Queen Elizabeth set off on her travels again. Her debut official state trip was an epic six-month tour of the Commonwealth — the alliance of nations which were once British colonies. Traveling by air, sea and land she visited several countries, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. First stop was the North Atlantic island of Bermuda, a British territory she would visit a further four times during her reign.
      The trip would go on to include stops in Jamaica, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Cocos Islands, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Aden (now part of Yemen), Uganda, Malta and Gibraltar.

    • At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in June 1953, Queen Salote Tupou III of the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga won over the British public when she sat, rain-soaked, in her open carriage. They also took an interest when Elizabeth returned the visit later in the year. The two queens enjoyed an open-air feast, watched Tongan dancers and admired a tortoise that legend said was presented by explorer Captain James Cook to the King of Tonga in 1777.

    • The Queen voyaged to New Zealand during the Antipodean summer of 1953-4. Over the course of the trip, it’s estimated that three out of every four New Zealanders got a glimpse of her. In preparation for the Queen’s visit, some New Zealand sheep were dyed in the UK flag colors of red, white and blue. The Queen returned to the country nine times over the years, including in 2002 as she marked half a century on the throne.

    • A visit to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, coincided with the Queen’s 28th birthday. She visited the city of Colombo where crowds joined together to sing her “Happy Birthday.” She also visited the central city of Kandy, where she watched a procession featuring a reported 140 elephants and met local chiefs.

    • The Queen had visited France as a young princess, but her first state visit as monarch was a glamorous affair. She attended the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, visited the Palace of Versailles, and dined at the Louvre with then-President Rene Coty. The Queen also laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe and visited the Scottish Church of Paris.

    • Having met President Harry S. Truman in Washington in 1951 during a visit before ascending to the throne, Elizabeth was no stranger to America when she arrived on her first trip as Queen. Her 1957 visit marked the 350th anniversary of the first permanent British settlement on the continent, in Jamestown. The monarch attended a college football game at the former Byrd Stadium in Maryland where she watched the home team lose to North Carolina. She met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House and later traveled to New York, where she and Prince Philip drove through the streets and admired panoramic views of the city from the Empire State Building.

    • The Queen and Prince Philip visited Pakistan in 1961, arriving in the port city of Karachi after completing a visit to India as part of a wider tour of South Asia. She drove through the streets of Karachi in an open-top car, before going on to visit Lahore, where a torchlight military tattoo took place in her honor and Prince Philip played in a game of polo.

    • In Nepal, the Queen inspected troops in Kathmandu and met Gurkha ex-servicemen in Pokhara. The monarch rode on an elephant and visited the Hanuman Dhoka Palace complex in Kathmandu. She took part in the rather grim spectacle of a tiger hunt although didn’t shoot any animals herself. She instead recorded the experience on cine camera – a recording device that she often carried with her on her earlier foreign trips.

    • The Queen visited pre-revolution Iran at the end of her 1961 South Asian tour.
      Hosted by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, she toured ancient monuments including the ruins of Persepolis, once a capital of the Achaemenid Empire, later declared a World Heritage Site. She also saw Sheikh Lotfollah mosque in Esfahan and admired collections of the Archaeological Museum of Iran.

    • In 1961, Elizabeth became the first British monarch to visit the Vatican. Dressed all in black, the Queen had an audience with Pope John XXIII, also attended by Prince Philip. She returned to the Vatican three more times during her reign, meeting Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.

    • Bombing incidents in the capital Accra left officials worried about the safety of the Queen’s visit to Ghana but, after deliberation, UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan confirmed it would go ahead. During the trip, the Queen famously shared a dance with Ghana’s then-president, Kwame Nkrumah. At the height of Cold War uncertainty, this seemingly innocuous moment was seen as significant in ensuring Ghana remained affiliated to Britain and not the USSR.

    • The Queen’s visit to West Germany and West Berlin was viewed as a symbolic gesture of goodwill in the post-World War II landscape. It was the first royal trip to German territory for more than 50 years and photographs such as one of the Queen and Prince Philip in a car driving past the Brandenburg Gate had symbolic resonance.

    • Queen Elizabeth became the first reigning British monarch to visit South America when she landed in Brazil in late 1968. During the trip, the Queen wore a striking jewelry set made of Brazilian aquamarine, gifted to her in 1953 by the Brazilian president and added to over time. The monarch also attended a football match between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and presented the winner’s trophy to Brazilian footballer Pele.

    • On the first of two trips to Turkey — the second took place in 2008 — the Queen visited the Gallipoli peninsula to remember the Allied soldiers who died there during World War I. The monarch also explored the ruins of the ancient Greek empire city of Ephesus. A media highlight of the visit came when she was photographed leaping ashore from a barge, after disembarking from her ship, the Royal Yacht Britannia.

    • Accompanied by Prince Philip and daughter Princess Anne, the Queen was greeted on arrival in Bangkok by a carpet of flower petals. The monarch was given a golden key to the city of Bangkok, attended a state banquet and visited Bang Pa-In Palace, the Thai royal family’s summer residence, north of the capital.

    • The Queen’s visit to Yugoslavia was her first trip to a communist country. The Central European country no longer exists — the areas that the Queen visited are now part of Croatia. During her trip, she met Yugoslav political leader Josip Broz Tito and traveled on his famous Blue Train.

    • The Queen and Prince Philip visited the Pacific island archipelago of Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, in 1974.
      It’s said the royal couple’s visit to Vanuatu may have strengthened the belief among some locals on Tanna island that the Duke of Edinburgh was a divine being.

    • On her first of two visits to Mexico, the Queen toured ancient sites — including the pyramids of Uxmal, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monarch also received local crafts, met school children and attended a banquet. While she was driven through Mexico City, the Queen was showered in confetti.

    • In 1979, the Queen became the first female head of state to visit Saudi Arabia, on a tour of Gulf States. At Riyadh Airport, she was met by King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, pictured. The outfits she wore on the trip were carefully designed in accordance with Saudi Arabia’s conservative dress code for women.
      The Queen arrived on a British Airways supersonic Concorde aircraft and during the visit attended camel races and toured the National Museum.

    • The Queen visited Tuvalu, a group of nine islands in the South Pacific, in 1982.
      Upon arrival, the Queen and Prince Philip were carried in a flower-filled canoe from sea to shore. Thirty years later, in 2012, Prince William visited Tuvalu with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who drank a coconut from a tree planted by Queen Elizabeth on this 1982 visit.

    • On a star-studded trip to the United States, the Queen toured the 20th Century-Fox studios in Hollywood with then-First Lady Nancy Reagan and met Frank Sinatra, who she’d previously met in the 1950s, at a party given in her honor.
      The Queen and Prince Philip also visited Yosemite National Park in California, pictured.

    • The Queen returned to Kenya in 1983 for a state visit. When she was there 31 years previously, she’d learned that her father had passed away and she had become Britain’s reigning monarch.
      In 1983, the Queen and Prince Philip revisited the Treetops hotel, pictured, where they were staying at the time she was told the news.

    • The Queen’s trip to China was the first — and, so far, only — state visit by a British monarch to China. With Prince Philip by her side, the Queen visited the Great Wall of China, pictured, as well as the Forbidden City in Beijing.

    • In 1994, in another royal first, the Queen visited Russia. Over the three-day trip, the Queen met Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, pictured here with the monarch outside St Basil’s Cathedral, as well as Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The Queen also attended the Bolshoi Ballet.
      In her traditional Christmas Day speech broadcast later that year, the Queen reflected on how times had changed, noting she “never thought it would be possible in [her] lifetime” to attend a service in Moscow’s famous cathedral.

    • In 1994, after apartheid ended, South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth as a republic. The following year, the Queen traveled there, in a visit designed to renew ties between the two countries. The Queen met with President Nelson Mandela, pictured, and presented him with the Order of Merit.

    • The Queen visited India for the third time in 1997, her first public engagement since Princess Diana’s funeral just weeks before. The trip marked 50 years since India’s independence from Britain.
      Most memorably, the monarch visited the site of the Amritsar massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, of April 13, 1919. She also expressed regret at a state banquet in New Delhi for the “distressing” episode in which British soldiers gunned down hundreds of unarmed civilians. The gesture was seen by some as inadequate.
      “The Queen is doing everything she can to make India like her. But so far it does not seem to be working,” wrote the UK’s Independent newspaper at the time.

    • The Queen visited Canada many times. In 2002, her trip to the North American country coincided with her Golden Jubilee festivities, celebrating 50 years of her reign. During the trip, the Queen attended an ice hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks, and dropped the ceremonial puck.

    • The Queen visited Australia 16 times as Head of State. In 2006, she traveled to Melbourne to open the Commonwealth Games. She was greeted by a welcoming party in Canberra, visited the Sydney Opera House, attended a Commonwealth Day service in St. Andrew’s Cathedral and toured Admiralty House, the Sydney residence of the Governor-General of Australia.

    • The Queen’s trip to Dublin was the first time a British monarch had set foot in the Irish Republic since its 1922 independence. At Dublin Castle the Queen delivered a well-received speech on the history of Anglo-Irish relations. In County Tipperary, she also toured the medieval Rock of Cashel, pictured, once a seat of power for Ireland’s ancient kings.

    • From 1949 to 1951, before she was Queen, Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived in Malta. In 2015, the monarch paid her last visit to the island, touring the Grand Harbour in a Maltese fishing boat and waving to members of the British Royal Navy.

    • In the later years of her reign, the Queen cut back on foreign travel, passing on the mantle to the younger royals. In more recent years, royal tours have also been looked at with more skeptical eyes, as Britain reckons with its colonial past.

      While she didn’t travel abroad in the later years of her reign, the Queen continued to vacation in the UK. Most notably, the Queen’s ties with Scotland remained strong throughout her reign and her residence there, Balmoral Castle, was a favorite refuge. It was at Balmoral that the Queen died on September 8, 2022.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the length of time between British royal visits to Ireland.

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