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32 of the best royal tour moments, from Kate's show-stopping outfits to Queen Elizabeth's poignant first Commonwealth visit

 The best Royal tour moments in history .
The best Royal tour moments in history .

For working royals, touring the globe isn't just a privilege, but an expectation. 

Key family members visit all corners of the world, usually enjoying some of the best royal tiara moments at lavish state banquets or showcasing some of the best royal necklaces from the vaults.

It's not all about showcasing the historic treasures and trinkets, though. Royal tours strengthen bonds between countries and solidify the importance of the Royal Family in an ever-changing world. We take a trip down memory lane and revisit the best royal tour moments, from William and Kate's first tour to Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee Commonwealth tour.

32 of the best royal tour moments

Queen Elizabeth's first official overseas tour - and the last one with her family

A young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on tour in South Africa
A young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on tour in South Africa

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (best known as The Queen Mother by modern readers) were joined by the then Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for a three-month tour of the Southern African dominions in 1947.

The family of four were seen visiting South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Swaziland, Basutoland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, where they greeted the locals and took part in adventures including horse-riding.

It was a significant tour for one reason; it was their only joint tour as a family. King George would die 5 years later, in 1952.

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Siblings on safari - Charles and Anne in Kenya

Prince Charles and Princess Anne on a safari in Kenya
Prince Charles and Princess Anne on a safari in Kenya

Family memories are a little different when you're royal.

The then Prince of Wales and Princess Anne went on an official tour to Kenya in 1971, which the Princess Royal also undertook in her role as President of the Save the Children Fund.

Highlights of the visit include a Safari in the Masai Game Reserve in Nairobi, during which Prince Charles and Princess Anne reportedly saw a lion from the back of their jeep. Charles also met gamekeepers to learn about animal preservation.

Princess Diana in Egypt

Princess Diana posing in front of the pyramids
Princess Diana posing in front of the pyramids

Sometimes, the story behind a picture paints more of the story.

The late Princess Diana reportedly didn't want to pose much while on her tour of Egypt. The day before Diana visited the Pyramids, People report that she told her photographer Anwar Hussein that she did not feel comfortable taking the photograph.

"When people ask me to stand in front of places like the Pyramids, I feel awkward, especially when I’m on my own. I don’t like posing. But I will do it really quickly - and once - and you can grab the picture,” she told him.

Now regarded as one of the most iconic photos of the 'people's princess', the press were reportedly disappointed with the photo at the time, upset that she'd chosen to wear a tan-coloured outfit instead of something more colourful that would stand out with the desert scenery.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first tour

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their first royal tour
Prince William and Kate Middleton on their first royal tour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge undertook their first official overseas tour to Canada just two months after their wedding.

It was Kate's first-ever tour as a royal, and the couple were two of the most sought-after individuals in the world as royal mania had hit its fever pitch. The royal couple visited all of Canada's regions during the nine-day tour.

The (now) Wales’s go Wild West

Prince William and Kate Middleton wearing cowboy hats
Prince William and Kate Middleton wearing cowboy hats

The royal couple sported white cowboy hats and western wear in downtown Calgary for a bull riding demonstration during their first royal tour. Not usually where you'd expect a Prince.

William and Kate both appeared in buttoned-down shirts and jeans to go with their gifted cowboy hats.

"Well, this is different,” William said with a laugh as he touched the tip of his cowboy hat at a reception later. “We have been hugely struck by the diversity of this beautiful country: from Ottawa to Quebec; from Prince Edward Island to the Northwest Territories; and now the excitement of Calgary - and what about these fantastic white hats."

Kate goes barefoot in Kuala Lumpur

Kate Middleton barefoot and with a headwrap in Kuala Lumpur
Kate Middleton barefoot and with a headwrap in Kuala Lumpur

The now Prince and Princess of Wales visited the Assyakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur during their 2012 tour of Malaysia.

As a sign of respect for different faiths, Kate wore a floaty white dress and matching headscarf. This wasn't a moment to observe Kate Middleton's best shoes: they both removed their shoes to enter the Mosque, as is custom.

President Eisenhower meets Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II with President Eisenhower
Queen Elizabeth II with President Eisenhower

Although the late Queen Elizabeth had visited the USA before, her visit in October 1957 marked Elizabeth II’s first visit to the country as Queen.

She was hosted by the 34th President, Dwight D Eisenhower, for her four-day State trip, during which included visits to New York City, Washington and Virginia.

A little-known Queen Elizabeth fact: President Eisenhower had actually met Elizabeth when she was a princess, so the reunion was poignant for them both, capturing a true moment of history.

Princess Anne wraps up in Canada

Princess Anne in an Eskimo coat
Princess Anne in an Eskimo coat

For the tour of Canada in 1970, Queen Elizabeth brought along her children including a young Princess Anne.

During the tour, the royals chatted with Inuit women. The Queen was later presented with the eight-foot horn of the rare Artic Whale and Princess Anne was given a traditional outfit trimmed with Artic fox made for her by the Inuits.

Queen Elizabeth's first trip to Russia

Queen Elizabeth II in Russia
Queen Elizabeth II in Russia

Another historic event was the late Queen’s visit to Russia in October 1994, marking her first-ever trip to the country.

Hosted by Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a spokesman for Yeltsin commented on the significance of the moment, stating, "We realise that the British queen would never have visited a Communist country."

William and Kate dance for the Diamond Jubilee

Prince William and Kate Middleton dancing and wearing flower crowns
Prince William and Kate Middleton dancing and wearing flower crowns

Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrated the final part of the Diamond Jubilee tour by busting out their best dance moves in 2012.

One of our favourite Kate Middleton and Prince William moments, the pair were keen to get involved with some traditional island music - and William showed his dad moves, even if he didn't have the excuse of being a father at the time.

The Cambridges enjoy some special coconuts

Kate Middleton drinking from a coconut
Kate Middleton drinking from a coconut

Sure, a refreshing swig from a fresh coconut is always going to be enjoyable. But there was something extra special about this sip.

Prince William and Kate Middleton drank coconut milk from a tree planted by Queen Elizabeth in 1982.

And then, in a full circle moment, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge planted their own coconut trees. Will we see Prince George or another royal child taste these coconuts in decades to come?

Queen Elizabeth cracks a joke with Ronald Reagan

Queen Elizabeth II and Ronald Reagan
Queen Elizabeth II and Ronald Reagan

You might not guess it from this demure picture, but during a 1983 tour of the United States, Queen Elizabeth had President Ronald Reagan in hysterics and proved she had a dry wit underneath the pomp and ceremony.

President Reagan hosted a dinner event for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

The late Queen chose a beaded ivory gown, but her quips proved to be the real memorable highlights. After experiencing a bunch of rain and bad weather, the Queen joked, "I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States, I had not realised before that weather was one of them."

A historic trip to India

Queen Elizabeth II riding in a vehicle in India
Queen Elizabeth II riding in a vehicle in India

India had been part of the British Empire within the Queen’s lifetime, with her own parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother (then Queen Consort) having been the last Emperor and Empress of India.

However, the British Raj was dissolved in 1947. With the backdrop of England's questionable past with the country, a notable change in the dynamics was felt when the Queen and Prince Philip made a State visit to India in 1961.

It was the first trip by a reigning British Monarch since the country gained its independence and proved to be a successful one.

William and Kate take a bite out of the big apple

Prince William and Kate Middleton attending a black tie event
Prince William and Kate Middleton attending a black tie event

While expecting Princess Charlotte, William and Kate went on their fourth royal tour as a married couple, swapping the Big Smoke for the Big Apple.

Their visit to New York City included a stay at The Carlyle Hotel, an old favourite of Princess Diana's.

During their trip, they met with the likes of Hillary Clinton, and caught a basketball game where LeBron James presented them with their own jerseys.

Kate Middleton’s pink coat wakes up the city that never sleeps

Kate Middleton in a bright pink coat
Kate Middleton in a bright pink coat

While on their 2014 tour of New York, Kate Middleton delighted fans with a bright and bold pink coat.

The hot pink Mulberry statement coat - which she wore when pregnant with Princess Charlotte - had fans convinced she was having a second girl when she recycled it during her third pregnancy.

Of course, the coat didn't have magical powers as their third child was Prince Louis.

Queen Elizabeth meets Nelson Mandela

Queen Elizabeth II with Nelson Mandela
Queen Elizabeth II with Nelson Mandela

The Queen first visited South Africa as a young princess with her parents and sister, and turned 21 during the tour.

In a speech broadcast from Cape Town on her birthday, the future Queen pledged her commitment to the Commonwealth, promising that her "whole life… shall be devoted to your service."

Yet the horrors of Apartheid in 1948 meant the Royal Family did not visit the country for several years (despite the Queen technically being its monarch until 1961).

So it was a huge moment in history when the Queen and Prince Philip travelled there aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1995. It was a show of support for the end of Apartheid and Nelson Mandela, the country's president at the time after his incarceration.

Kate showcases her iconic fashion sense during her first royal tour

Kate Middleton, wearing the colours of the Canadian flag, and Prince William in Canada
Kate Middleton, wearing the colours of the Canadian flag, and Prince William in Canada

Proving she had taken to the royal way with ease, Kate Middleton did the classic thing of sending subtle messages with her clothes while on her first overseas tour.

As they toured Canada, Kate wore a symbolic white and red outfit, capturing the colours of the flag. One of Kate Middleton's best style moments that cemented her status as a royal style icon, even in the early days.

Princess Margaret in Tanzania

Princess Margaret wearing a zebra print dress and taking photos
Princess Margaret wearing a zebra print dress and taking photos

Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, Princess Margaret, went on a five-week tour of Mauritius and East Africa in 1956. This was the second, and longest, solo tour undertaken by Princess Margaret.

The Princess's first Commonwealth visit alone was to the Caribbean in 1955.

Princess Diana in Japan

Princess Diana wearing a kimono
Princess Diana wearing a kimono

Princess Diana visited Japan in 1986, and proved how her popularity had travelled the globe.

Diana’s first full day in Japan started with a trip to the early 17th century Nijo Castle, a short trip from the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

At the castle, Diana experienced a traditional tea ceremony and sipped green tea. Later, she visited the Shugakuin Imperial Villa where Diana tried on a peach-coloured furisode (kimono).

Princess Anne feeds monkeys in Gibraltar

Princess Anne as an infant feeding monkeys
Princess Anne as an infant feeding monkeys

In one of the most adorable vintage throwbacks from an early tour, the young Princess Anne joined her family on a tour of Gibraltar.

With blonde curls, she was photographed feeding the monkeys.

It's a cute moment of innocence for the woman who'd become the hard-working Princess Royal - and proved she always had a special connection to animals.

Prince Charles dances up a storm in Argentina

Prince Charles dancing with a Tango dancer
Prince Charles dancing with a Tango dancer

Next up, one of our favourite memorable King Charles moments. In 1999,  the then Prince Charles arrived in Argentina for the first visit by a Prince of Wales in 67 years.

During the two-day state visit to Buenos Aires, the now King Charles once again showed off his penchant for dancing, this time getting in the spirit of things with a hands-on tango with Adriane Vasile.

The Queen's Silver Jubilee tour

Queen Elizabeth II wearing a white and green printed outfit
Queen Elizabeth II wearing a white and green printed outfit

To mark the milestone of 25 years on the throne, the Queen undertook a special Silver Jubilee tour in 1977.

With Prince Philip by her side, the couple travelled over 56,000 miles during the impressive tour, visiting 14 Commonwealth countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

There were also some firsts, as they made the first-ever royal trip to the island nations of Fiji and Tonga. It was an important reminder of how seriously the late Queen took her duties, even 25 years into her reign.

Baby on board - Prince George's first tour

Kate Middleton with Prince George as a baby
Kate Middleton with Prince George as a baby

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's third-ever royal tour was a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand - but the real highlight of the trip was it marking a baby Prince George's first time travelling with his parents.

William and a pregnant Kate visit Sweden

Kate Middleton in a red houndstooth coat, with Prince William
Kate Middleton in a red houndstooth coat, with Prince William

On the second day of the royal tour of Scandinavia, the Duchess of Cambridge - pregnant with Prince Louis at the time - wore a red-and-white houndstooth coat by Catherine Walker while advocating for mental health at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

The bright coat, which she paired with a Chanel hand bag and pearl earrings by the Swedish brand In2Design, was thought to be a homage to one of Princess Diana's most famous jackets from the early 1990s.

Harry and Meghan in New Zealand

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle being greeted in traditional New Zealand fashion
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle being greeted in traditional New Zealand fashion

In October 2018, a few months after their May wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle went on a whirlwind tour of Australia and New Zealand.

On the last day of their tour, Harry and Meghan wore traditional Korowai cloaks on a visit to Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua, where they participated in the Pōwhiri, the Ceremony of Welcome.

Meghan gives a rousing speech in front of the Queen

Meghan Markle giving a speech in front of a portrait of the Queen
Meghan Markle giving a speech in front of a portrait of the Queen

Meghan Markle was praised for giving a “powerful” speech on feminism and women’s suffrage in New Zealand on 125th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in the country during her tour with Prince Harry.

The Duchess of Sussex began with a Maori greeting, “tēnā koutou katoa” or "hello to you all" which received a round of applause from the crowd.

She went on to speak about her admiration for the country which became the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

Kate Middleton shows off her skills in Pakistan

Kate Middleton playing cricket
Kate Middleton playing cricket

William and Kate's tour of Pakistan in 2019 was a true highlight for fans of the now Princess of Wales as they got to see all facets of her personality.

Not only did the sporty Kate get to show off her cricket skills during a fun game alongside her husband, she stepped out looking every inch the Princess she'd become in a dazzling emerald green gown in the evening.

It wasn't the first time Kate had shown off her cricketing skills, having worn high heels for a game in New Zealand in 2014 and once again during a trip to India in 2016.

Cheers to Ireland

Kate Middleton drinking a Guinness
Kate Middleton drinking a Guinness

A trip to Ireland in 2020 was more important than it initially might have seemed.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's trip in 2020 was their first official trip to the country, but it was also the first time any member of the royal family had visited following Brexit.

During their three-day trip, the couple spent time in Dublin, County Meath, County Kildare, and Galway.

Kate, who is known to love a pint of Guinness, enjoyed sipping the traditional stout. Perks of the job!

The Golden Jubilee Commonwealth tour, tinged with tragedy

Queen Elizabeth greets a woman in a colourful dress on her Golden Jubilee tour
Queen Elizabeth greets a woman in a colourful dress on her Golden Jubilee tour

To mark the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne, the Queen undertook a special Golden Jubilee Tour to visit four Commonwealth countries – Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and Canada – kicking off in February 2002.

However, the huge milestone was somewhat tinged with sadness.

Earlier in the same month, the Queen lost her only sister, Princess Margaret.

Princess Diana dances with John Travolta

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta
Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta

Princess Diana and Prince Charles attended a White House dinner on the first night of their royal tour of the US in 1985 - and made history.

Alongside famous guests including Neil Diamond, Leontyne Price, Tom Selleck, Gloria Vanderbilt, Estée Lauder, Clint Eastwood and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Grease star John Travolta would twirl the Princess of Wales around the dance floor in what has become one of the most iconic moments.

The blue Edelstein gown Diana wore on the night went under the hammer in 2019 where it sold for £264,000 ($325,317) to Historic Royal Palaces, a charity which looks after royal memorabilia including clothing and artefacts.

Queen Elizabeth’s historical first Commonwealth tour as monarch

Queen Elizabeth on the year of her accession, 1952
Queen Elizabeth on the year of her accession, 1952

When the Queen acceded the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, she began her reign with a monumental tour of the Commonwealth.

It turned out to be the longest Commonwealth tour to date, lasting an impressive six months (from November 1953 to May 1954), and covering 44,000 miles.

To prove her dedication to the crown, Queen Elizabeth underwent the six month tour and was away from her two children at the time (Prince Charles and Princess Anne) for most of that period.

The family were eventually reunited in Malta, before they all sailed home together via Gibraltar aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Dancing Queen

Queen Elizabeth II dancing with Ghana's president
Queen Elizabeth II dancing with Ghana's president

Queen Elizabeth II visited the Republic of Ghana in November 1961. The Queen famously danced with Ghana's president Kwame Nkrumah at a farewell ball in Accra, which many believe was a symbolic moment in the history of the Commonwealth.

Despite bombings in the capital and fears that Ghana was getting too close to the Soviet Union, the Queen insisted on this tour to make sure that Ghana did not leave the Commonwealth.

This momentous chapter in the history of the Commonwealth was portrayed in the second season of the Netflix series, The Crown.