The Queen Has Visited 120 Countries, But Not THIS One — And Here's the Awkward Reason Why

The Queen Has Visited 120 Countries, But Not THIS One — And Here's the Awkward Reason Why

It's surprisingly close to home (and yet so far).

By Karen Gardiner
Digital Original
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The U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II is possibly the best-traveled head of state the world has known. She ascended to the throne while visiting Kenya and in her 66-year reign has visited more than 120 countries on 270 international trips, 95 of which were official state visits, beginning in Panama in 1953. She has certainly seen the world change throughout of those years of globetrotting.

She visited pre-revolutionary Iran and Libya as well as Cold War-era West Germany. Her most-visited country is Canada, where she has been 27 times since coronation, and she has made five trips to the U.S., where she met with five different presidents (Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes). 

But there is one surprising country that she has never visited during her reign: Greece, her husband's birthplace. Born into the Greek and Danish royal families, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a naturalized British citizen when he became engaged to Elizabeth in 1947. But a romantic trip to the hubby's homeland is not likely to be added to the bucket list any time soon due to regal drama and intrigue in Prince Philip's past. 

Royal historian Hugo Vickers told the BBC that the fraught history of the (now abolished) monarchy in Greece affected Prince Philip's immediate family. "Prince Philip doesn't like Greece, because they {the military government set up following the Greco-Turkish war} put his father {Prince Andrew} on trial, and he might have been executed," he said. "In 1922, they all had to flee."

Prince Philip was only one year old when he left Greece, carried to the safety of a British ship in a fruit box refashioned as a makeshift cot. He has rarely returned and says he has only a rudimentary grasp of the Greek language. In fact, he has said that he considers himself Danish.

Adding to the awkwardness, King Constantine — Prince Philip's first cousin once removed and Prince William's godfather — was ousted when the monarchy was abolished in 1973. He lives in London, still considers himself king, and has a close personal relationship with the Queen, Michael Binyon, foreign affairs specialist at The Times told the BBC. These details lead Vickers to suspect that the Queen may have, thus, never been invited by the Greek president to make a state visit.

But Elizabeth has not completely missed out on others among Greece's many charms. She did, in fact, visit the country at the invitation of King Paul, Philip's cousin, in 1950. But that was before she became Queen.

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