Starting today we present extracts from the forthcoming book Olympic Britain, showing through statistics the changing face of Britain since the previous London Olympics of 1908 and 1948. After the recent Jubilee celebrations marking 60 years of The Queen's reign, Adam Mellows-Facer takes a look at the Air Miles Her Majesty has accrued since her accession to the throne.
The Queen is the most well-travelled monarch in history. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, she has undertaken 263 official foreign visits. Of these, 96 were counted as state visits, which are visits to countries where the Queen is not recognised as the Head of State; the remaining 167 were visits to those Commonwealth countries where she is.
By contrast, her father, King George VI, made only 3 state visits: to France in 1938, and to Canada and the United States in 1939, before the outbreak of World War II. With the outbreak of war an imminent prospect, these visits were intended to shore-up important strategic alliances, and foreign policy considerations remain a major factor in choosing locations for state visits. The UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the United States is evidenced by the Queen having visited the country five times, more than any other; at her most recent visit, in 2010, she laid a wreath at ground zero. The state visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011, the first by a British monarch since the country’s separation from the UK in 1922, marked a symbolic normalisation of relations, following the signing of the Good Friday agreement in 1998.
The Queen has made 167 visits to the Commonwealth countries during her reign, travelling to 52 out of its 54 member states. She was in Kenya on 6 February 1952 when she learnt of her accession to the throne. Canada, where she remains head of state, has seen the most of the Queen: she has visited various parts of the country on 25 occasions (including overnight stops).
The only occasion on which any outward visit has been interrupted was in 1974. On the 7 February that year the Prime Minister Edward Heath sent a telegram to the Queen, who was in New Zealand for the Commonwealth Games, seeking her permission to dissolve Parliament so that a General Election could be held. The Queen returned to Britain from Australia on 28 February 1974, the day of the election, so that she could invite a party leader to form a Government. The Duke of Edinburgh completed the tour on her behalf.
Official air miles: The map shows the countries visited by the Queen and the number of times she has been to each