The Queen and the Commonwealth

As leaders of the 53 Commonwealth countries arrive in the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, we look back at The Royal Family's visits around the Commonwealth. 

During her reign, The Queen has visited every country in the Commonwealth (with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995 and Rwanda which joined in 2009) and made many repeat visits. In fact, one third of The Queen's total overseas visits are to Commonwealth countries. In the sixties, The Queen remarkably visited 28 countries in the Commonwealth, including Ghana, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada.

The Queen's visits to Commonwealth Countries in 1960s

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong – Princess Elizabeth, 1947

The Queen made an oath to the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday.  The then Princess Elizabeth was on The Royal Tour with her parents and sister Princess Margaret, when she delivered the message on the radio from Cape Town, South Africa.

Her Majesty's most recent visit to a Commonwealth country was to Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2016. Though she has reduced her Commonwealth travel significantly in recent years, The Queen continues to be engaged with the Commonwealth through regular audiences with High Commissioners, updates from her Private Secretaries and her involvement in projects such as The Queen's Young Leaders and The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy. 
 

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall

This commitment to the Commonwealth has since been carried on to The Queen's children and grandchildren. Since 1969, The Prince of Wales has visited 44 of 53 Commonwealth countries to date, many of them on several occasions.

The Prince of wales and The Princess Royal 1964 Malta

In 1954,The Prince of Wales accompanied his sister The Princess Royal to Malta and then to Tobruk, to meet his parents, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at final stage of the Commonwealth Tour. Many of the prominent issues The Prince's charitable endeavours have focussed upon, including the environment, youth opportunity and enterprise, are of immediate relevance to the Commonwealth. 

For me the Commonwealth is something rather special – and worth cherishing. It is as old as I am, and so has been present throughout my life, as something to which The Queen and other members of my family attach great value – Prince of Wales, 2000

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has accompanied The Prince on the majority of Commonwealth visits since their marriage in 2005 – including The Prince's latest visit to Australia, where HRH opened The Commonwealth Games on behalf of The Queen.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in Singapore

Much of The Prince of Wales' visits have sought to identify and address areas of charitable need.

Many of the prominent issues The Prince's charitable endeavours have focussed upon, including the environment, youth opportunity and enterprise, are of immediate relevance to the Commonwealth. Several of His Royal Highness's charities have therefore undertaken activities in Commonwealth countries for many years, often in collaboration with local organisations. 

 

The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have together made five official visits across the Commonwealth, including to Canada in July 2012, Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in 2014, Australia and New Zealand in 2014 and India and Canada in 2016.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visits around the Commonwealth

The Duke of Cambridge's first visit to a Commonwealth country was in 2005, when HRH visited New Zealand. In 2010, The Duke and Prince Harry undertook a tour to Botwana, Lesotho and South Africa together – where they visited a number of projects supported by their respective charities including Sentebale and Tusk Trust.
    

PW and PH Semongkong Children's Centre in Lesotho 2010

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018, The Duke spoke about the special network that is the Commonwealth.

There is no other network on earth that even comes close to this – we must make the most of it, cherish it, and protect it for the generations to come, who will build on it – The Duke of Cambridge

The forum brought together more than 2,000 CHOGM delegates to London for a week of working sessions to discuss shared global challenges.

 

Prince Harry

Prince Harry first official visits to a Commonwealth country was to Canada in 1991 and has since carried numerous official and charity visits to over 20 Commonwealth countries. In 2016, Prince Harry undertook an official visit to the Caribbean on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

Prince Harry visits to the Commonwealth

His Royal Highness carried out 14 days of official engagements in Her Majesty's Realms where The Queen is Sovereign, in addition to Guyana – a member of the Commonwealth.

In 2018, it was announced that The Queen has appointed Prince Harry as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Prince Harry opened this year's CHOGM's Youth Forum, where he spoke about his new role.

Both here in the UK and as I travel, my job will be to listen to you.  My duty will be to ensure that your ideas, concerns, thoughts, and hopes are heard. And my commitment will be to work with you to build better platforms for your leadership, and to help you collaborate and form partnerships with your peers across nations – Prince Harry

In this new role, Prince Harry will highlight and support the work and aspirations of young people across the Commonwealth, on both UK engagements and overseas tours to Commonwealth countries.

The Duke of York

The Duke of York has made several visits around the Commonwealth on behalf of The Queen and on charity and official visits. The Duke of York holds several military service appointments across the commonwealth.

In Canada, The Duke is Colonel in Chief, ‎The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment), Colonel in Chief, The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and Colonel in Chief, The Princess Louise Fusiliers. In New Zealand, The Duke is Colonel in Chief, Royal New Zealand Logistics Regiment since 1996.

The Princess Royal

The Princess Royal has visited over 25 Commonwealth countries. The Princess' most recent trip was to Ghana and Sierra Leone in April last year.
    

The Princess Royal in Ghana

There, The Princess Royal attended celebrations to mark 60 years of Ghana Independence. The Princess also learnt about the work of the Department of International Development and Non-Government Organisations in Sierra Leone post-ebola.

Much of Her Royal Highness's work as Patron of Save The Children takes her to Commonwealth countries, most recently Bangladesh, Mozambique and South Africa. 

The Earl and Countess of Wessex

The Earl and Countess of Wessex continue to travel around the Commonwealth, often on behalf of The Queen. Most recently, The Earl and The Countess Sri Lanka in February this year to commemorate the country's 70th Anniversary of Independence, on behalf of The Queen.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex visit Sri Lanka

The Earl continued on to India, the largest country in the Commonwealth, in February this year – carrying out engagements in entrepreneurship, technology, sport and female empowerment. The Countess of Wessex, who is a Global Ambassador of the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness, went to Bangladesh in 2017 to visit projects and organisations working to eradicate avoidable blindness. 

As well as their official and charity visits, Their Royal Highnesses have also visited Brunei, Canada and to the Caribbean on behalf of the Diamond Jubilee Tour on behalf of Her Majesty,

More Royal visits

The Duke of Gloucester visited Malawi earlier this year to celebrate Commonwealth Day and official dedicate Malawi's contribution to The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.

Alongside The Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke has visited Tonga in 2008 where His Royal Highness, representing The Queen, and Her Royal Highness called upon The King of Tonga at the Royal Palace, Nuku'alofa.

Princess Alexandra has made 53 visits to Commonwealth countries, including to 19 countries in Africa. In 1960, Princess Alexandra represented Her Majesty The Queen at Independence Ceremonies and opened the first parliament.

Find out more about the Commonwealth.