How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (2023)

It’s no surprise that members of the British royal family are among the world’s most well-traveled individuals. They frequently jet overseas on official business, and are also no strangers to holidaying in far-flung—and, of course, secluded—destinations. Sometimes, this is by private plane, but the Queen's relatives have also been spotted on budget airlines, scheduled trains, and behind the wheel themselves.

Here are the details on how the royals really travel.

Private planes are used, but so are scheduled flights.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (1)

The Cambridges arrive at Victoria International Airport during the 2016 royal tour of Canada.

Travel arrangements for official visits are determined by the Royal Travel Office, who take into account security, cost, and logistics before coming up with a plan. Sometimes, this involves a charter plane which can enable royals and their entourage to more easily stop off in multiple countries or islands—such as when Prince Charles and Camilla visited Cuba and the Caribbean earlier this year. For that trip, which cost £416,576 (roughly $506,286), they used the U.K. ministerial jet, the Royal Air Force’s VIP Voyager, which is available to royals and British government officials.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (2)

Charles and Camilla arrive in Havana for a historic royal visit to Cuba in 2019.

For other visits, commercial flights are deemed more appropriate, like when Prince Harry and Meghan traveled first class with Qantas for their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2018. During this trip they also used a charter plane, which cost £81,002 (roughly $98,444) to travel to Fiji and Tonga.

(Video) How the Queen Travels

Usually the British public pick up the bill for official overseas travel except when the royals are visiting Commonwealth Realms (countries where the Queen is also Head of State), in which case the host country pays.

While off-duty, members of the royal family have been known to use both private planes and budget airlines.

Prince William and Kate, for example, have borrowed the private jet belonging to the Duke of Westminster for family vacations in Europe. When they holiday on the Caribbean island Mustique, they usually travel first class with British Airways to St. Lucia before taking another 30 minute flight to the private island. However, the couple have also been spotted on the budget airline EasyJet while heading on a skiing break.

Harry and Meghan were also seen sitting in economy on a scheduled British Airways flight to Nice in December 2017 en route to ring in the New Year. However, they have also both used private jets, with Harry recently taking one to Google’s Climate Change summit and Meghan returning from her baby shower in New York on one.

They like to take the train, and are not immune to delays

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (3)

Queen Elizabeth arrives with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex by Royal Train in Cheshire to carry out engagements.

No one covering Prince Harry and Meghan’s trip to Cardiff in January 2018 could forget the stormy look on Harry’s face when he stepped out of the car an hour late thanks to a train delay. The couple had boarded the first class carriage of a regular rail service from London Paddington that morning but found themselves held up when the train was moved to a slower track.

Other regular train journeys have gone more smoothly and the young royals in particular often choose this mode of transport, especially to visit major cities.

The Queen also uses a regular train service every year to start her Christmas break at Sandringham, boarding at London’s King’s Cross and disembarking at Norfolk’s King’s Lynn station. This all appears pretty frugal; however, there is also the small matter of the Royal Train, which is still occasionally used by members of the family.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (4)

Queen Elizabeth arrives at King’s Lynn station to begin her Christmas holiday in Sandringham.

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Costing several thousands of pounds per trip, it is often cited when the royals reveal their annual financial reports as one of the more lavish expenditures. Last year, examples of journeys taken were Prince Charles using it to travel from Euston to Port Talbot at a cost of £20,049 (or roughly $24,370) and the Queen and Meghan’s trip to Cheshire, which came in at £29,714 (or roughly $26,115).

They use of helicopters—sometimes to travel between their houses.

One of the quickest ways royals can get around the U.K. is to travel by helicopter. Between April 2018 and April 2019, 204 journeys were made on royal helicopters which cost a total of £688,845. Regulations permit the royals to use public funds to travel from residence to residence, trips they often make by helicopter. The Queen’s Helicopter Flight currently has two helicopters in operation, which are based at RAF Odiham (a Royal Air Force Station in the English town of Odiham).

While he doesn’t usually fly himself to or on official engagements, Prince William still likes to get behind the controls of a helicopter following his years spent in the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue and later as an air ambulance pilot. He took the opportunity to fly one for the cameras in January 2019 to highlight the work of the London Air Ambulance.

Sometimes, nothing but a car will do, and the royals like to drive themselves.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (6)

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Queen Elizabeth behind the wheel in 2014.

When it comes to getting around on a day-to-day basis, nothing beats the convenience of four wheels. The royals arrive at almost all their engagements by car (when they do take helicopters or planes, a local diplomatic vehicle is waiting to pick them up). Specifically, the Queen travels in her Bentley State Limousine which was created for her Golden Jubilee in 2002. The car was specially designed to make it possible for well-wishers to more easily see inside and with doors and a higher roof so Her Majesty can more easily get out of the vehicle.

British manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover also enjoy the patronage of the royal family, with members frequently seen in and behind the wheel of its vehicles. Despite the fact they could be driven everywhere if they wanted, the royals enjoy the independence of driving themselves. William drove Kate and all their three newborn children home from hospital and the Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted behind the wheel heading through the gates of Buckingham Palace.

The Queen has also been seen driving herself to church in Windsor many times, as well as driving visitors around the Balmoral estate. Prince Philip was still driving at age 96 until a crash forced him to decide to surrender his license.

Both William and Harry love to ride motorbikes.

The brothers were in their element when they took part in an eight-day 1,000 mile charity bike ride across South Africa in 2008. William also currently owns a 1198S Ducati, but his wife Kate isn't such a fan. In 2015, she admitted, “It always fills me with horror when he goes out on it‎. I'm terrified.”

Fortunately for her, the prince revealed in November 2017 that he has put biking on the back burner since having his children.

Finally, there’s the mode of transport they don’t use any more: the royal yacht.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (8)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on the royal yacht in 1979.

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Once upon a time, the royals took to the seas for official visits on the Royal Yacht Britannia. However, that all stopped when the vessel was decommissioned in 1997—a date often cited as one of the only times the Queen has shed a tear in public.

Over the course of 40 years, Britannia traveled more than one million nautical miles to 600+ ports in 135 countries. Now, it is moored in Edinburgh as a popular tourist attraction. Some British politicians have suggested bringing back a royal yacht but this has yet to catch on.

How Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family Really Travel (9)

Town & Country Contributing Editor Victoria Murphy has reported on the British Royal Family since 2010. She has interviewed Prince Harry and has travelled the world covering several royal tours. She was the Daily Mirror's Royal Correspondent and is a frequent contributor to Good Morning America.

(Video) Queen Elizabeth II follows route of first train journey made by Queen Victoria


How does the Queen travel by car? ›

Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent. Although Queen Elizabeth II and her family have used numerous cars to chauffeur them to events in England, the car the queen travels in is a Bentley State Limousine. Modeled after the Bentley Arnage, the Bentley State Limousine was made specifically for the queen.

How does the Queen travel without a passport? ›

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.

Does the British royal family have their own plane? ›

When the royals make official travel visits, they take either a private plane or a helicopter. In 2019 alone, the family racked up 207 helicopter trips and 56 flights on chartered jets.

How does the Queen travel between Buckingham Palace? ›

Home to historic royal carriages and one of the finest working stables in existence. The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace is responsible for all road travel arrangements for The King and members of the Royal Family, from horse-and-carriage to car and from livery to harness.

Does the Queen travel with her own toilet? ›

Does not travel with her own toilet seat. According to a royal official, the Queen is not fussy when it comes to sitting on the porcelain throne. Although Prince Charles is known to travel with his own toilet seat.

Does the Queen sleeps alone? ›

Yes you read that right. Apparently a lot of posh people actually prefer to sleep in separate beds, including the Queen and her man. As etiquette expert Lady Pam and Her Majesty's cousin explained in a biography about her relative: "In England, the upper class always have had separate bedrooms.

What time does the Queen go to bed? ›

It's said that in order to feel fresh for her daily appointments the Queen always went to bed at the same time every night, 11pm, and slept for eight and a half hours – meaning she woke at 7.30am each day. It's so simple.

Does the Queen carry money? ›

The Queen doesn't normally carry money with her because, let's be real, she doesn't have to. The British government, plus a few of her own private investments, cover the cost of running the British monarchy. But there's one day a week when she makes an exception.

Does the Queen have a phone? ›

A royal phone

Sacerdoti also revealed details of the Queen's telecommunications at the time. As well as a number of private lines, the monarch's private mobile phone was unique. It may 'just' be a Samsung as many of us non-Royals have, but it was much more special.

Why can't the royal family travel together? ›

Prince William became heir to the throne on the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. As heir, there is an unofficial rule that he should never fly on the same plane as his father, King Charles III.

How many cars does the Queen have? ›

There are currently five State Cars: two Bentleys and three Rolls-Royces. They have been used when the monarch is travelling abroad, and are also made available for heads of state visiting the UK, as well as for use by senior members of the Royal Family on official duties.

Are the royals allowed to fly together? ›

Royal protocol is that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected.

Does the Queen go underground? ›

The Royal Vault is a crypt situated beneath St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Over 200 years old, it was commissioned by King George III in 1804 and has since became the famous resting place of British monarchs, superseding Westminster Abbey.

Why does the Queen move her handbag? ›

Author Kristen Meinzer told Mirror that switching the bag from one arm to the other meant that the Queen was signalling to her staff that she wanted someone to come and interrupt the conversation. "It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other.

Does a queen have to bow to another queen? ›

The only person they will curtsy or bow to is the sovereign. A royal highness does not curtsy to another royal highness,” she told Hello! Magazine in a 2018 interview.

Do royals use toilet paper? ›

When hosts fuss about the loo when they are expecting a royal visit, they need not worry too much about whether to buy double-ply or treble-ply toilet paper, as she brings her own stash.

What happens to all the Queen's clothes? ›

The Queen's wardrobe will likely be split mostly between Kate Middleton and Queen Consort Camilla, according to royal experts.

Does the Queen do her own dishes? ›

But, as it turns out, Her Majesty isn't quite as afraid of getting her hands dirty as we've all been lead to believe. In fact, she even does her own dishes, according to one royal source.

What does the Queen not eat? ›

The Queen personally dislikes onions and garlic, so those items are seldom found in the royal kitchen. During an appearance on MasterChef Australia, Camilla herself confirmed the latter after being asked what foods royals won't eat. “I hate to say this, but garlic,” the Duchess of Cornwall said.

Who is the Queen's best friend? ›

Meet Queen Elizabeth's most loyal aide till the end, Angela Kelly: the late monarch's dresser since 1994 was dubbed her 'best friend' and even continues to stay at Windsor Castle after her death.

What does the Queen do all day? ›

She is the longest-serving monarch in British history. Busy from morning to night, she carries out more speeches and public meetings than all other members of the Royal family combined.

Who chooses the Queen's clothes? ›

The woman responsible for the Queen's style was trusted advisor Angela Kelly, who joined the royal household in 1994 as one of Her Majesty's dressers (she sold her washing machine to buy a smart outfit for her interview at Buckingham Palace) before working her way up to Her Majesty's personal assistant, advisor and ...

Who puts the Queen to bed? ›

At the time of hearing the traditional two-pitch whistle, all Naval personnel on the upper deck will stop, face the stern and salute. And, in the 'sunsets' ceremony, the Navy is responsible for 'putting the Queen to bed' – taking down the two flags.

Where do the royals store all their clothes? ›

Have you ever wondered where Queen Elizabeth keeps all of her meticulously matched skirt suits? (Same.) As it turns out, she doesn't keep them in a regular old closet in her bedroom like us normal folks. Her clothes are actually stored on their own floor of Buckingham Palace.

Does the Queen pay for shopping? ›

The Queen makes her own money, paid as part of the Sovereign Grant, and totals millions of dollars per year. Because of this, she is free to buy her own clothes, but no doubt has a self-set clothing allowance as well.

Who pays for the Queen? ›

There are three sources of funding for The Queen, or officials of the Royal Household acting on Her Majesty's behalf, in both a public and private capacity. These are: the Sovereign Grant, the Privy Purse and The Queen's personal wealth and income.

Does the Queen use a credit card? ›

Queen Elizabeth II and Elton John have reportedly used the Coutts & Co.'s World Card, a highly prestigious card rumored to offer private after-hour shopping sessions wherever cardholders want.

Does the Queen go food shopping? ›

Queen Elizabeth II looks at products on the shelves at a Waitrose supermarket during a visit to the town of Poundbury on 27 October 2016 in Poundbury, Dorset.

What shop does the Queen get her food from? ›

Heinz, which has been providing the royal households with products since 1955, said it “sincerely hopes to be able to continue doing so for many years to come”.

Does the Queen wear makeup? ›

Queen Elizabeth II seldom wore little more than lipstick and a hint of blush for her public appearances, and called upon Clarins Compact Powder for her complexion (the brand made an exclusive lipstick to match her suit for Coronation Day in 1953 to celebrate the Queen's loyalty to them).

Do the royal family sleep together? ›

Why do the royals sleep in separate beds? Reportedly, the reason why some royals chose to sleep in different beds all comes down to an upper-class tradition which originated in Britain. According to Lady Pamela Hicks, Prince Philip's cousin, the aristocracy “always have separate bedrooms”.

Do the royals travel with black clothes? ›

When anyone from the royal family travels, they must take a black ensemble with them in case someone in the family dies. With protocol such a big part of being a royal, having the correct mourning attire to hand ensures that they can appropriately catch the mood of the nation.

Can the royal family touch the Queen? ›

Read More. It's true Royal etiquette seems to suggests Her Majesty shouldn't be touched by officials who meet her.

Does the Queen have a bulletproof car? ›

Like its trans-Atlantic counterpart, the Royal Bentley can survive a bomb blast, has bulletproof tires, and can be quickly made airtight in the event of a chemical attack. It was a gift to the Queen from Bentley in recognition of her golden jubilee, which took place in 2002.

Does the Queen have a personal driver? ›

The Queen has only ever been seen driving her car when on holiday such as at her Balmoral retreat. As she has so many personal drivers, she does not have to drive as often.

Do the royal family pay for cars? ›

But even though they don't necessarily have to dash out for errands like we have to, the Royal Family owns their fair share of cars. And even though it might only be for cruising around with their palace besties or ferrying the lads back and forth from London to Windsor, the royals still need car insurance.

How many bodyguards does The Queen travel with? ›

They are the more senior of the bodyguard groups, classed as the 'nearest guard' to the King. The order consists of five officers (the Captain, the Lieutenant, the Standard Bearer, the Clerk of the Cheque, and the Harbinger) and 27 Gentlemen at Arms.

Do royals need passports? ›

The Queen didn't have to use a passport to travel, and this is likely to also be true for King Charles. Every passport in the United Kingdom is issued with the Queen's name. As a consequence, the Queen didn't need her own passport to travel, according to the royal family website.

Can the royals be touched? ›

PDA is strongly discouraged. There are no official rules forbidding public displays of affection, but the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip set a precedent encouraging royals to keep touching to a minimum.

Why can you not touch the Queen? ›

Never touch the Queen

According to Yahoo! Life, royal protocol dictates that anyone who meets Queen Elizabeth for the first time should wait for Her Majesty's cue. She will extend her hand first, so no touching is allowed.

What clothes will the Queen be buried in? ›

Her Majesty, who will be buried next to her husband Prince Philip later today, will wear only her wedding band and a pair of pearl earrings, despite owning a collection worth millions of pounds.

Can Queen Elizabeth travel anywhere? ›

End of the day, she was the Queen of England and she can travel anywhere in this world without a passport. Everyone in the Royal family needs a passport, but she does not need one, even her late husband The Duke of Edinburgh has to carry one.

Does the Queen wear her clothes more than once? ›

The Queen's personal dresser, Angela Kelly, previously explained how the royal's repeat-wears were always carefully considered. “Typically, the lifespan of an outfit can be up to around 25 years,” Kelly wrote in her book The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, The Dresser And The Wardrobe, published in 2019.

Why do royals sleep in separate beds? ›

Lady Pamela explained, “In England, the upper class always have had separate bedrooms. You don't want to be bothered with snoring or someone flinging a leg around. Then when you are feeling cozy you share your room sometimes. It is lovely to be able to choose.”

What does the Queen eat? ›

Simple cooked meat and vegetables lead the way, with space for pheasant or venison should the Queen wish. Of course, Queen Elizabeth loved a Sunday roast just as much as anyone else. Along with chocolate, the Queen enjoyed some strawberries or peaches for dessert.

What does Kate call the Queen? ›

What Kate calls the Queen. While the rest of the world is required to address Queen Elizabeth as Ma'am or your majesty, those closest to her are allowed to refer to her as Mama, according to Ingrid Seward, the editor of Majesty magazine.

Do Royals dress themselves? ›

Sometimes, the Queen of Britain, Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth II, needs to change clothes up to five times a day – in the case of big celebrations, for example. And not simply the dress she's wearing but the shoes, gloves, jewelry, medals and other accessories and, most important, her hats.

What happens if you dont curtsy to the Queen? ›

"But there is no hard and fast rule, and if you can't do it or don't feel comfortable doing it or don't want to do it that's fine; it doesn't mean you hold the queen in any less respect and you won't be sent to the Tower." Another royal source added, "People do tend to bow or curtsy to the queen, and that's just good ...

Does the Queen of England drive her own car? ›

She was pictured driving her X-Type again in 2021, making it probably the last public photograph of her behind the wheel.

Can the Queen of England drive a car? ›

Her Majesty was never required to have a driver's license.

The Queen was never required to take an actual driving test and was also able to drive without a number plate because all driver's licenses in the UK are issued in the Queen's name, according to the Daily Express.

Does the Queen have her own car? ›

As of 2022 the two 2002 Bentleys continue to serve as state cars, along with three Rolls-Royce Phantom limousines: the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV which was purchased by Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1950 (becoming a state car upon her accession to the throne two years later), the 1978 Rolls-Royce Phantom ...

Does the Queen have to pay for anything? ›

The details of the payments are private. The Queen voluntarily paid a sum equivalent to income tax on her private income and income from the Privy Purse (which includes the Duchy of Lancaster) that is not used for official purposes. The Sovereign Grant is exempted.

What car dies the Queen drive? ›

Queen Elizabeth II loved driving British-built cars and owned dozens of Land Rovers and Range Rovers in her lifetime. Her favourite was said to be the 2002 Defender 110, which featured a TD5 diesel engine with raised suspension and heated seats.

What does the Royal Family do all day? ›

Generally, every royal supports charities, appears at events, and occasionally travels the globe to strengthen diplomatic relationships. But some royals also have day jobs, and others have long military careers.

Who funds the Royal Family? ›

There are three sources of funding for The Queen, or officials of the Royal Household acting on Her Majesty's behalf, in both a public and private capacity. These are: the Sovereign Grant, the Privy Purse and The Queen's personal wealth and income.

What is the Queen's Favourite food? ›

The former royal chef revealed the Queen loves chocolate!

"For a first course she loved the Gleneagles pâté, which is smoked salmon, trout and mackerel. She loved using ingredients off the estate and so if we had salmon from Balmoral from the River Dee, she'd have that, it was one of her favourites.

Who will carry the Queen's coffin? ›

The pallbearers hail from the Queen's Company, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. 'It's their role to protect her body, both in life and in death, remaining in the Queen's Company until King Charles decides otherwise,' explained Major Adrian Weale to the PA.

How many bodyguards does the Queen travel with? ›

They are the more senior of the bodyguard groups, classed as the 'nearest guard' to the King. The order consists of five officers (the Captain, the Lieutenant, the Standard Bearer, the Clerk of the Cheque, and the Harbinger) and 27 Gentlemen at Arms.

Does the Queen have bodyguards? ›

When Her Majesty The Queen receives visiting heads of state it's the Mounted Regiment of the Household Cavalry that provides the escorts. They are the Queen's official bodyguard.

Does the Queen use makeup? ›

Minimal makeup

Queen Elizabeth II seldom wore little more than lipstick and a hint of blush for her public appearances, and called upon Clarins Compact Powder for her complexion (the brand made an exclusive lipstick to match her suit for Coronation Day in 1953 to celebrate the Queen's loyalty to them).


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