60 Years Of Royal Travel: Queen Elizabeth II’s State Visits

This week, the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, commemorating 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the royal throne. The Times has an interactive, multimedia infographic detailing six decades of royal travel. Each decade details her Commonwealth and international trips with video and photographs from some of her most important visits. The 1970s-’90s mark her most prolific time as a traveler, with over 60 countries visited in those three decades. She slowed down a bit in the past few years, with just four foreign countries (plus Canada and Australia, members of the Commonwealth) visited since 2010 – but still pretty impressive for a senior citizen. Since her coronation in 1952, she’s visited an impressive 161 countries and spent a total of 3.5 years abroad.

[Photo courtesy The British Monarchy on Flickr, copyright Press Association]

Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee: 2012’s other major British event

In London, signs of the coming Olympics are everywhere. Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations have begun to expand into East London toward key Olympics sites, billboards urge drivers to begin to think about how they’ll deal with increased traffic, and the Prime Minister is busy warning unions that the prospect of a strike during the Olympics would be “unacceptable and unpatriotic.”

Meanwhile, outside of London, a number of cities have banded together as Heritage Cities in part to lure those tourists brought to London by the Olympics away from the capital.

But the Olympics are not the only event drawing visitors to the UK this year. 2012 is also the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her coronation as Queen. The Diamond Jubilee will reach its peak during what is being called the Diamond Jubilee central weekend, from June 2 through 5. The weekend will be characterized by some serious pomp and circumstance. Events will include a 1000-boat pageant on the Thames on June 3, a BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4, and a special Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral followed by a carriage procession on June 5.

In addition to this peak period, there are a number of other events planned in the lead-up to the weekend and beyond.

For example, members of the Royal Family are traveling around the UK, the UK’s Crown Dependencies, the UK’s Overseas Territories, and Commonwealth to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Currently, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and his wife the Countess of Wessex are on a two-week commemorative Caribbean visit, taking in St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, and Antigua and Barbuda. Locals and tourists alike in the region might just run across Edward and Sophie through March 7.

The Queen and Prince Philip’s travel schedule begins March 8 in Leicester and finishes off on what looks like a very busy July 25, taking in Cowes, the Isle of Wight, New Forest, and Hampshire.

There is an official website for taking stock of Diamond Jubilee events. There’s also a handy Google map allowing visitors to see where various members of the Royal Family will be celebrating the Queen’s reign throughout the year. (Spoiler alert: Harry got Jamaica.) Visitors can play with an interactive timeline of the last 60 years and also send a message to the Queen. And there’s the crucial bit of information that Andrew Lloyd Webber is co-authoring a Diamond Jubilee song.

[Image: Flickr | quinn.anya]

Terrorists injure two tourists near Delhi mosque

Two tourists from Taiwan have been wounded in a terrorist attack at the gate to the Jama Masjid, a historic mosque in New Delhi, India.

Witnesses say two men on a motorcycle drove up and the one riding on the back opened fire on the tourists’ bus, firing a total of eight to ten rounds. The terrorists then drove off and have not been caught. Two tourists are currently being treated in a local hospital and are both in stable condition. One was grazed in the head and the other was shot in the abdomen.

No group has claimed responsibility. The attack comes two weeks before New Delhi will host the Commonwealth Games.

India has seen a spate of terrorist attacks in recent years, the worst being in Mumbai in 2008, in which more than 170 people were killed. In February, 17 people, including several tourists, died in a bomb attack in Pune.

Photo courtesy
Peter Rivera via Gadling’s flickr pool. This shot was taken in 2007 and does not show the terrorists or their victims.

International female team reaches South Pole

Back in November, a group of seven women from a variety of countries around the globe set out on a long, and challenging journey. Calling themselves the Kaspersky Commonwealth Expedition, they left Patriot Hills, along the Antarctic coast, and over the course of the next 39 days, traveled more than 550 miles on skis, before arriving at their destination at the geographic South Pole yesterday.

The expedition is described on the team’s website as “5 Continents. 6 Faiths. 7 Languages. 8 Women. 1 daring ambition”. And what a daring ambition it has been. The original eight women come from Cyprus, Ghana, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Jamaica and the United Kingdom, each of which are Commonwealth countries. Due to illness, one of the women was forced to withdraw from the team at the last minute, leaving the other seven to continue without her.

The expedition served two purposes. The first was to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth, while the second was a celebration of the achievement of women from around the planet. These ladies hope to serve as role models for young girls back home, showing them that it is possible to for women to do great things. In several cases, these women are first person, man or woman, from their home country to make the journey to the South Pole.

That journey was not an easy one. The ladies had to deal with blizzards, whiteout conditions, vast crevasse fields, and long, demanding days out on the ice, where the temperatures often fell below -20ºF. In order to make the journey, they had to pull their gear and supplies behind them on heavy sleds, while they crossed miles of wide open terrain, often exposed to howling winds and blowing snow.

For now, the team is resting at the research station located at the South Pole, where they are enjoying warm beds and hot meals for the first time in weeks. In the next day or two, they’ll be picked up from the ice by plane, and begin to make the return trip home. But until then, they’re content and happy, with having reached a place on the planet that few people will ever see and accomplishing something that few could ever dream of.