Around the World: The Queen’s Travels – Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Tribute
The Queen is undoubtedly the most travelled monarch in the world, and during her 70-year reign she has been received in almost every nation of significance, and many of the map’s microscopic dots. She represents a country the Imperial power of which has long gone, yet on the Queen’s travels she is always greeted with affection, curiosity and instant recognition wherever she goes.
Of course, recent restrictions have meant that the Queen’s travels have been more limited. But in previous years her travels have been legendary.
In the Spring of 2001 she was on her third visit to Norway, as guest of King Harald, her second cousin. The previous Autumn she had travelled to Italy and the Holy See, visits notably less onerous than many in the past.
Heavy trunks, each labelled ‘The Queen’, stood like sentry boxes in the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Inside, as well as her sensibly designed outfits, and the occasional tiara, are packed a few home comforts; the Malvern water, a specially selected blend of Earl Grey tea, Dundee cake, shortbread biscuits, marmalade, and her favourite peppermint creams.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories … was off on her travels again.
The two million people who thronged The Bund of Shanghai during her visit to China in 1986 (the citizens of the People’s Republic greeted her, in translation, as ‘the English country female King’) knew exactly who she was. To foreigners Her Majesty represents something rare and desirable. Her throne is by far the best known of a diminishing collection, and the stability it represents in a deeply uncertain and fast-changing world is the object of a wider envy than is sometimes realised at home.
Appreciating its virtue does not require understanding of the intricacies of constitutional monarchy. It transcends politics, and even nationality; how often on a distant kerbside do waiting admirers announce that they have come to see not the Queen of Great Britain, but simply THE QUEEN?
Not surprisingly she is particularly fêted in the United States and France, countries that pioneered the overthrow of their monarchies in favour of the true democracy of republicanism. In 1992 the Parisians packing the Champs Elysées were shouting not ‘Vive la Reine d’Angleterre’ but ‘Vive la Reine de France’, and the Queen was said to have been ‘elated’ by this display of Gallic gallantry.