Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London this week marks the farewell to a reign that lasted more than 70 years. She was in Kenya in early 1952 when she learned her father had died and she would take over as queen of the United Kingdom. In her time on the throne, many former British colonies gained independence. More than 50 countries remain members of the Commonwealth of Nations, maintaining close relations with the U.K. In all those decades, the queen made many journeys throughout the lands that once made up an empire on which the sun never set. These are a few of the most memorable, in places where you can follow in her footsteps.
Less than a year after her coronation, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, embarked on a six-month worldwide tour that included stops in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Middle East and Mediterranean. The first stop was the North Atlantic island of Bermuda, marking the queen’s first official state visit. She visited Bermuda another four times during her reign, and who could blame her? The beautiful pink sand beaches and excellent sailing and diving conditions make Bermuda an idyllic island escape easily reached from the U.S. East Coast.
On that same whirlwind tour, the queen spent more than a month in New Zealand, including the Christmas holiday. It was the first of her 10 visits to the country, including one in her golden jubilee year of 2002. New Zealand last week dropped its remaining Covid travel restrictions, including testing and vaccination requirements, meaning it’s as easy to visit now as before the pandemic. Do book as far in advance as you can, however, as it’s a small country with a lot of international interest.
It was known as Ceylon at the time, the name a relic of the colonial era, when the queen visited in April 1954, celebrating her 28th birthday on the island in the Indian Ocean. Supply shortages make it inadvisable to visit right now, but the country has built a robust tourism industry in recent decades, showcasing the rich history and natural beauty of the place. It’s a great adventure and beach destination, plus a haven of spirituality with a Buddhist majority and significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. It’s also a biodiversity and ecotourism hotspot.
The queen returned in 1983 and went back to Treetops Hotel, where she and Prince Philip were staying when their lives irrevocably changed. Treetops closed in 2021, but there is an abundance of luxury camp from which to spot the big five and have an unforgettable safari experience. Climb Kilimanjaro, visit the Masai Mara and take a journey deep into the origins of our species in the crater of humanity in this land of wonder.
In 2011, the queen became the first British sovereign to visit the republic since Irish independence in 1922. In four days she traveled from Dublin to Cork, delivering a speech at Dublin Castle, paying respects to those who died in the struggle for Irish independence at the Garden of Remembrance and viewing the ancient seat of Irish power at the Rock of Cashel. As the first monarch from the U.K. to enter Ireland in 100 years, she made a demonstration of how far the countries had come in forging peaceful relations.