Queen Elizabeth II, who will be celebrating her 90th birthday on Thursday, has visited 120 countries out of 196 countries in the world. She has sailed over 1 million miles on the Royal Yacht that amounts to 42 times around the globe. And interestingly, the British monarch does not have a passport.
The 89-year-old royal, who became the nation’s longest-serving monarch in September, has much air mileage to her credit due to her royal engagements in the Commonwealth and abroad. British passports are issued in Elizabeth's name, so she is the only member of the royal family who does not need to carry one.
During her first 12 months on the throne, Elizabeth traveled more than 40,000 miles visiting 12 countries. This was during her six-month Commonwealth tour from November 1953 to May 1954.
According to royal historian Kate Williams, Canada is one of the favorite destinations of the queen. She has visited the country over 25 times and is almost always accompanied by her husband of 68 years, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Elizabeth also loves Germany and France, closer to home. The research was done by Williams for travel website lastminute.com.
She speaks fluent French, but has only been to Spain once in 1988. Italy holds a very special place in Elizabeth’s heart and is one of the few places she has actually visited on holiday, before she became the queen. As a naval wife to Philip, the then-princess was able to swim, go to parties and relax, without the eyes of the press on her.
She has been to Italy five times and was the first British monarch to meet the Pope in 1961. During the state visit, Pope John XXIII arranged for 1,000 nuns and priests to sing “God Save the Queen” in the Vatican courtyard, just outside the room in which they were meeting. Besides, the 70s and 80s were very busy decades for the queen, who visited six countries in two months as part of her 1979 Middle East tour.
Over the years, she has also taken more scheduled flights than her private jet. In 1977, she famously took the Concorde to the U.S. With growing older, Elizabeth has taken fewer overseas trips, with her average time abroad each year currently totaling eight days.
Now she usually spends two months of the summer at Balmoral in Scotland, Easter at Windsor Castle and Christmas holidays with her family at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Elizabeth spends lesser number of days at Buckingham Palace — around 88 at present, down from an average of 100 in previous years.
When she travels around Europe, Elizabeth prefers to stay at diplomatic residences or presidential residences or on a yacht. There have been very rare cases when she has stayed in hotels. Some of the famous hotels where she has stayed include the Raffles Hotel Singapore in 2006, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite in 1983 and the Waldorf Astoria in New York in 1957 (also frequented by the Queen Mother). Elizabeth has also stayed in the Fairmont Royal in Toronto, the Phoenicia in Malta and the St. Regis in Washington.