Probably everyone in the modern world knows about the passing of Queen Elizabeth last week on September 8, 2022. She had served as queen of the United Kingdom for just over 70 years. There have been hundreds if not thousands of stories about her in the last few days but here is something I found interesting, from a travel perspective.
Why Queen Elizabeth Did Not Have a Passport
People may not realize it but just because someone is a head of state does not mean that they do not need a passport. US presidents are issued special diplomatic passports when they take office (and actually keep their diplomatic passports after leaving office). Of course, the president is never standing in the immigration line when he visits countries as an aide handles the processing of the president and his staff.
But, interestingly, Queen Elizabeth did not have a passport. However, she had visited at least 117 countries and, again, interestingly enough, she never visited Greece as queen, even though this was where her husband was born (this could have been due to the treatment of her husband’s family in Greece).
She visited Canada the most, with 27 visits. Apparently, her longest stay was in Australia for about 2 months. During her reign, she visited every country in the Commonwealth and is believed to have traveled more than 1 million miles. This is pretty amazing as well, when you break down the numbers and her visits to various countries. I have flown more than 1 million miles but have not visited even half as many countries as Queen Elizabeth had.
But, back to the passports. Though presidents and even the queen’s own family (including her late husband) had to have passports, Queen Elizabeth did not have a passport. Here is what the government website had to say was the reason for this:
”When travelling overseas, The Queen does not require a British passport. As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one. All other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports.
The first page of British passports contains a representation of the Royal Arms, together with the following wording:
‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.’”
Now that she has passed, new passports will have different wording to align with the new monarch being King Charles III. But, that does not mean that current passports are no longer valid. In fact, the passports will still be valid until their expiration date – and will likely be something that any current passport holder will want to keep!