The Queen’s favourite places to visit around the world

·4-min read
The Queen’s favourite places to visit around the world

Particularly in her youth, the Queen spent lengths of time abroad, meeting and speaking with people from across the Commonwealth.

Both she and her husband, Prince Philip would travel for months at a time on royal tours, made easier when air travel became more widespread.

Before then and for some time after, the Queen and other royals also travelled on the Royal Yacht Britannia, now permanently moored in Edinburgh.

In total, the Queen embarked on 290 state trips during her time as monarch.

Here’s a look at some of the Queen’s favourite places to visit, including one country that she was fortunate enough to call home for a couple of years.

Malta

Malta was the only place outside of the UK that Queen Elizabeth called home. She lived here with Prince Philip between 1949 and 1951 while the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed there as a Royal Navy officer.

One of their first homes as a couple, the 18th-century mansion they lived in was gifted to them by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle.

It featured 18 rooms, stables for the horse-loving then-princess, and a huge garden.

The Queen’s time there was relatively free of royal duties and biographers have since said that the couple shared many happy memories there, with the Queen able to live much like any naval officer’s wife.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in 2015, the Queen said the island was “always very special for me. I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married.”

Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived in the suburbs of capital city Valletta from 1949 to 1951 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived in the suburbs of capital city Valletta from 1949 to 1951 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

St Mawes, Cornwall

Closer to home, Cornwall’s St Mawes was the site of many childhood holidays for both young Elizabeth and her sister Margaret.

The Queen Mother favoured the area for its gorgeous beaches and charming villages.

The family stayed at Penolva, a private waterfront property built by the Queen Mother’s close friend, Dick Wilkins.

The house enjoys direct, private sea access, which meant the royals could enter the property from the sea, cruising up on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

It’s now available to rent by members of the public.

The quaint harbour of St Mawes was known to attract the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and a young Princess Elizabeth. (Wikimedia Commons)
The quaint harbour of St Mawes was known to attract the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and a young Princess Elizabeth. (Wikimedia Commons)

South Africa

Despite the amount of travelling she did throughout her life, the first time the Queen left the UK was at the age of 20.

Her first trip abroad, just a few months shy of her engagement to Prince Philip, was to South Africa in 1947.

She travelled with her father King George VI, the Queen Mother, and her sister Princess Margaret.

According to Sarah Bradford’s book Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times, the excursion was “to have a profound and lifelong effect on her.”

The family spent two months travelling across the country in the first state visit since 1939 and the outbreak of World War II.

Princess Elizabeth turned 21 during the trip and the day was declared a public holiday in her honour.

Princess Elizabeth in South Africa just days before her 21st birthday when she pledged her whole life to royal duty (PA Archive)
Princess Elizabeth in South Africa just days before her 21st birthday when she pledged her whole life to royal duty (PA Archive)

Canada

Out of all her state visits, the Queen visited Canada the most, visiting the country 27 times.

Returning so many times suggests that the Queen had a bond and love for the country, having explored so much of it.

Her travels took as far as Nova Scotia and as far north as 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Queen was also known to enjoy seeing as much local wildlife as possible, including wild grizzly bears.

The Queen often combined her trips with other state events, such as cutting the ribbon for the 15th Commonwealth Games in 1994.

Queen Elizabeth talks to Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund after she receieved the ceremonial puck prior to the Canucks preseason game against the San Jose Sharks, in Vancouver, Canada. (AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth talks to Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund after she receieved the ceremonial puck prior to the Canucks preseason game against the San Jose Sharks, in Vancouver, Canada. (AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil

1968 saw the Queen travel to one of the most far-flung locations, accompanied by Prince Philip: Brazil.

Visiting the cities of Recife, Salvador, Brasilia and Sao Paulo, the royal couple then travelled on to the capital, Rio de Janeiro.

The pair waved to onlookers from an open-topped Rolls Royce alongside Copacabana Beach, before attending a cup final football match.

The Queen there met famed footballer, Pelé, and handed him the winning trophy.

In 2006, the Queen looked back on the tour fondly while hosting a banquet for Brazilian president Luiz da Silva at Buckingham Palace: “I have vivid and happy memories of my visit to Brazil with Prince Philip in 1968, especially the warmth and hospitality of the Brazilian people.”

Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Perhaps the most well-known favoured location of the Queen and one where she spent long periods of time is Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

Every summer since 1952 saw the Queen make the journey up to Balmoral, where she was known to be able to relax best.

“I think Granny is the most happy there,” Princess Eugenie remarked in the ‘Our Queen at Ninety’ documentary. “I think she really, really loves the Highlands. Walks, picnics, dogs – a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs – and people coming in and out all the time.”

Balmoral is believed to have been seen as a refuge for both the Queen, Prince Philip, and other members of the royal family. They spent time doing some of their favourite activities, like hunting, riding, and walking.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to a farm on their Balmoral estate, to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. (PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to a farm on their Balmoral estate, to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. (PA) (PA Archive)

The Queen was at Balmoral at the time of her death on September 8, 2022, with her son Charles and daughter Anne at her side.