As leaders of the 53 Commonwealth countries visit 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 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.
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
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.
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 Duke of Cambridge's first visit to a Commonwealth country was in 2005, when HRH visited New Zealand. In 2010, The Duke (then Prince William) 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.
The Duke and Duchess 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.
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
Prince Harry first official visits to a Commonwealth country was to Canada in 1991 and has since carried out over 20 official and charity visits to 22 Commonwealth countries. In 2016, Prince Harry undertook an official visit to the Caribbean on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
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 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
THE DUKE OF YORK
The Princess Royal has visited over 25 Commonwealth countries. The Princess' most recent trip was to Ghana and Sierra Leone in April last year. There The Princess Royal marked 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 after post-ebola.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex continue to travel around the Commonwealth, often on behalf of The Queen. Most recently, The Earl and Countess visited Sri Lanka in February this year to commemorate the country's 70th Anniversary of Independence, on behalf of The Queen.
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.
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.
The 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.