Queen Elizabeth has undertaken 94 official State Visits during her reign, plus two State Visits in her capacity as Queen of Canada (she visited the United States twice in the ‘50s).
A State Visit is when a foreign head of state is invited to visit a country by that country’s head of state. State Visits differ from Official Visits, as an Official Visit is when high-ranking government officials are invited to visit a country (not necessarily the head of state).
Here are five of the top State Visits Queen Elizabeth has undertaken:
Germany, 23-26 June 2015
This State Visit made the list because it was The Queen’s last. No one officially knew this at the time, but it was heavily speculated in the press that the end of her foreign travel was coming.
At the time of this State Visit, Simone Derix, a historian speaking to The Guardian talked about how symbolic The Queen’s earlier visit from 18-28 May 1965, in West Germany, was a “sign that Germany was once again being viewed as a normal country…[but] at the same time there were fears among officials ‘that some Germans in their enthusiasm to see her would let slip a heil.’” The crowds ended up shouting “Elizabeth!”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “The Queen has seen first hand how relations between Germany and the United Kingdom have developed over time. Today relations are extremely cordial, but this trend has, of course, only developed over the years since the Federal Republic of Germany was founded.”
Ireland, 17-20 May 2011
The Queen was the first reigning monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland. Her grandfather, George V, had visited in 1911, back when Ireland was still entirely in the United Kingdom.
She’d previously visited Northern Ireland, which had remained in the United Kingdom, and her visit to Ireland was hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a “huge step forward” for diplomatic relations.
There was heightened security during The Queen and Prince Philip’s visit, as not all Irish groups were happy with the tour. As such, many of their walkabouts included crowds behind security barriers, and any people she met were selected beforehand.
The Queen delivered a speech at the State Dinner that began in Irish, which reportedly caused the President to mouth “Wow!” three times.
Russia, 17-20 October 1994
The Queen was again the first reigning British monarch to visit Russia – although Edward VII had visited in 1908 on a yacht, and only sailed far enough into Russian waters to have lunch with Tsar Nicolas II aboard the yacht.
Christian Science Monitor reported at the time that the Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin snubbed The Queen by not returning from a holiday at the Black Sea to welcome her.
Vyacheslav V. Kostikov, the chief spokesman for President Boris Yeltsin, said at the time that The Queen “would never have visited a Communist country,” and that her visit was proof that Russia was breaking from its past.
The Queen and Prince Philip stayed at the Kremlin. The visit was notable for another reason; just before they left, a salacious biography of Prince Charles, written with his cooperation, spoke of a tense relationship with his parents.
The United States of America, 6-11 July 1976
The Queen was in the United States to help celebrate the bicentennial, which had occurred two days earlier. She and Prince Philip were on hand to tour around
President Gerald Ford welcomed The Queen with a state dinner, and said, “Your Majesty’s visit symbolises our deep and continuing commitment to the common values of an Anglo-American civilisation. Your Majesty, for generations our peoples have worked together and fought together side by side. As democracies, we continue our quest for peace and justice.”
The Queen visited Philadelphia, Washington, New York, New Haven, Charlottesville, Providence and Boston during her visit.
The Queen has visited America seven times, most recently in 2007. During that visit, President George W. Bush misspoke and said The Queen had visited in 1776 when he meant 1976. At the state dinner, The Queen said, “I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776…” to laughter.
Yugoslavia, 17-21 October 1972
The Queen’s first visit to a Communist country came in 1972 when she visited Belgrade, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb in Yugoslavia (after the breakup of Yugoslavia, these cities are now in Serbia and Croatia, respectively).
The Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Anne visited during the height of the Cold War, accepting an invitation from President Josip Tito. The government claimed the visit was “based on common allegiance to peace, equality among people and world progress.”
The Queen focused on other ties between the countries, stating, “We in Britain are particularly proud of our contributions to the [Second World War] resistance and to the liberation of Yugoslavia from enemy occupation.”