Queen Elizabeth has traveled to 116 different countries across the world since her coronation, according to the BBC. No other British monarch can match those numbers, yet there are certain nations that she never visited. And a few of these places were deemed to be off limits for some intriguing reasons.
Unsurprisingly, international travel for a monarch is incredibly important, and the Queen quickly stepped up in that regard during her early reign. After she took over from King George in 1952, Elizabeth was sent on her first overseas outing to Kenya later that year.
The Queen then began traveling to numerous nations around the globe over the next six decades. She flew to places like Libya, Thailand, Zambia, Chile, Nepal and Botswana during that period, but it wasn’t always plain sailing. For instance, the British head of state was due to visit Ghana back in 1961 when tensions were high in the country.
That year there were calls to assassinate Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah. However, the Queen still pressed ahead with her trip to the African country – ignoring the dangers that came with it. In fact, she apparently grew somewhat irritated with those who tried to dissuade her from going in the lead-up, according to former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
MacMillan wrote up a fascinating entry in his personal journal, writing, “The Queen has been absolutely determined all through. She is grateful for MPs’ and press concerns about her safety – but she is impatient of the attitude towards her.”
Meanwhile, the Queen has made some other notable trips during her reign. In 1986 she became the first ever British royal to embark on a state visit to China. Then, eight years later Elizabeth made the same bit of history again after traveling to Russia.
And the Queen has also traveled to certain destinations more than once. Indeed, as per The Daily Telegraph, she’s been to Australia on 18 different occasions. But one other country in the Commonwealth boasts an even greater number than that.
Incredibly, the newspaper notes that Elizabeth has gone to Canada 27 times, with some of those visits coinciding with the Canada Day festivities in July. She even spoke to the public there via TV and radio on one of her trips back in 1959. Impressively, the royal shared her message in English and a little bit of French.
The Queen said, “We would like to see many more of you and far more of this wonderful country, but it cannot be done this time. Canada is simply too big. Luckily, the television network reaches most of the country, so I can at least bring this rather more personal message directly into your homes.”
But there’s one particular country which the Queen holds dear to her heart. And that place is Malta. Elizabeth lived there for two years from 1949 when she was still a princess and had not long been married to her husband Prince Phillip.
Philip was a naval officer at that time and had been stationed in Malta as part of his service. So thanks to that, he and his wife enjoyed a quiet spell in the Mediterranean country – taking in the surroundings without drawing too much attention. And it might not be surprising to hear that the Queen has reportedly described it as her “other home.”
The Queen went back to Malta again in 1954 and 1967 – before further visits in 1992 and 2005. She then returned once more with Philip to celebrate her 60th wedding anniversary two years later. On top of that, Elizabeth also earmarked the Mediterranean nation for another significant event.
In November 2015 the Queen and her husband flew to Malta in what proved to be their last foreign engagement. Since then, other British royal family members have taken her place when traveling around the world. And much like her, they have access to the Royal Air Force’s Voyager airplane to carry out their duties.
Though as we mentioned earlier, there are a few countries that the Queen didn’t visit before her final trip in 2015. And some of those nations might surprise you given how well-known they are. Yet the monarch had her reasons for avoiding them, whether it was down to political issues or more personal factors.
For instance, the Queen never traveled to Israel for a state visit while she was flying around the world. According to the Reader’s Digest website, she didn’t want to travel there because of the animosity shared by Israel and the Palestinians. After all, both of them consider Jerusalem to be their capital city.
Michael Binyon of The Times spoke to BBC News in May 2012 to shed a bit more light on the Queen’s stance. The foreign affairs expert said, “[A trip to Israel] would create tremendous, intractable problems and the Queen doesn’t want to be included in those.” In addition to that, the British government had a part to play, too.
For you see, the government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in charge of managing state visit requests. Specifically, it’s down to a board within that department known as the Royal Visits Committee. They assess if the country in question is safe enough to travel to, and Israel had failed in that regard previously.
Yet a breakthrough was seemingly made in 2018 – some three years after the Queen stepped away from traveling. That June, her grandson Prince William was set to touch down in Israel for a few days. Prior to that, Kensington Palace outlined what the Duke of Cambridge hoped to get out of the trip via an official statement.
The message read, “The historic nature of this tour is, of course, important and [William] considers it a great privilege to be undertaking the first ever official royal tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. More importantly, however, the duke is looking forward to building a real and enduring relationship with the people of the region.”
Alongside Israel, the Queen also hasn’t traveled to Cuba as the British head of state. The Daily Express reported that there might be a couple of reasons behind that – with “travel restrictions” being cited first. Though as per the newspaper, people from the United Kingdom can visit the country with no problems.
But citizens of the United States aren’t allowed to visit Cuba for any type of vacation. Instead, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revealed that Americans have to choose from a list of 12 options to explain why they want to enter the country.
The aforementioned restrictions could also be tied into the second potential explanation for why the Queen didn’t fly to Cuba. And that was the Cuban Missile Crisis – a major event in the 1960s which led to political issues between the country and America. In addition to that, the Daily Express claimed that Fidel Castro might’ve chosen to withhold any invites to the royals.
There are also a few countries in Asia that the Queen missed out on as well. For instance, she didn’t go to the Philippines, Vietnam or Bhutan either. The Daily Express failed to note why Elizabeth avoided that last spot, though her grandson stepped up again in 2016.
Much like Prince Charles did in 1988, William and his wife Kate Middleton flew to Bhutan 28 years later. During their time there, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walked for six hours to see the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The former reportedly joked, “My father didn’t make it to the top. So that’s something I’ll be reminding him of when I see him.”
Elsewhere, Egypt was another notable country that the Queen swerved throughout her travels. That one might seem to be particularly puzzling at first glance, but her decision could’ve been tied to an event that happened back in October 1956. That’s because an event known as the Suez Crisis took place some four years into Elizabeth’s reign.
At that time, the Suez Canal was known for having a handle on most of the oil that was sent to Europe. In the fall of 1956, though, the president of Egypt decided to nationalize that stretch of water. It was a move that angered France, Israel and the United Kingdom – prompting them to deploy their respective militaries.
The dispute eventually concluded at the start of 1957 and Egypt came out victorious. Though the crisis had become so serious that even the Soviet Union came close to joining the fray as well. So due to those past tensions, The Daily Telegraph suggested that the Queen’s safety might not have been guaranteed during a state visit.
Furthermore, the Queen didn’t see much of Central and South America either. As we mentioned earlier, Chile was one of the few nations that she did visit from those regions – along with Mexico and Brazil. But there was a country in that area which was actively avoided by the British monarch.
Argentina was the nation in question, as the South American country got involved in a nasty conflict with Britain in 1982. The issue stemmed from the latter’s hold over the Falkland Islands, which can be found in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. And for their part, the Argentines believed that the land belonged to them.
Argentina sent troops to occupy the Falkland Islands, which prompted Britain to respond. By the end of the confrontation over 900 people had died, as the Royal Navy removed the Argentinian forces. Since then, Michael Binyon informed BBC News that a potential visit from the Queen was “out of the question.”
Yet that didn’t dissuade another member of the Queen’s family from traveling to Argentina in 2013. Princess Anne made the trip during that period and became the first royal to touch down in 14 years. Before long, though, a group of Argentines decided to aim some concerning threats in her direction.
Anne was quickly dubbed as a “pirate princess” by those individuals, while they also said that she was loathed in Argentina. In addition to that, the group promised to confront her at the International Olympic Committee, too. So, Binyon’s fears regarding a visit from the Queen appeared to be justified.
And a little closer to home, the Queen seemed to avoid one more nation when making state visits. She steered clear of Greece throughout her numerous trips abroad. However, unlike some of the other nations that we’ve discussed so far, her reasoning could be tied back to her husband Philip.
Philip was welcomed into the world back in 1921 – joining the family of Greece’s Prince Andrew. The youngster had four older sisters named Princess Theodora, Princess Margarita, Princess Sophie and Princess Cecilie. As for his mother, Princess Alice was the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and she was certainly a character.
But there was more to Philip’s mom beyond her eccentricities, according to royal expert Hugo Vickers. He informed the Washington Post newspaper, “[Alice] really exemplified the best qualities of a princess, which is to look after your people in difficult times.” Unfortunately, though, her family suffered a terrifying moment in the early 1920s.
Vickers talked about the aforementioned incident in an interview with BBC News. He told the website, “Prince Philip doesn’t like Greece, because they put his father Prince Andrew on trial, and he might have been executed. In 1922 they all had to flee [the country].” After that, the Queen’s husband apparently tried to avoid going back.
Interestingly, it’s believed that the Queen looked to follow suit when she came into power. Yet both she and Philip did visit the country in 1950. The former was still a princess at that time, and she received the invite from King Paul.
That marked the Queen’s last journey to Greece, though her husband hopped on a plane himself during the 1960s. At that point, Philip went to Athens to meet up with his mom ahead of her relocation to England. As for the Greek royal family, Paul looked to keep the connection alive in 1963.
Paul took part in a state visit of Britain that year, but his arrival wasn’t very well received, as several people had been jailed in Greece for political reasons. And when looking back on that period, Vickers stated that the Greek King’s presence on U.K. shores was “hugely controversial.”
Paul eventually passed away following that trip – handing power to King Constantine. However, the Greek royal family was dissolved in 1973, and the latter subsequently moved to England. According to BBC News, he managed to maintain his connection to Queen Elizabeth. Though in Vickers’ mind, this also “made things difficult” for her if she wanted to visit Greece.