Travel like a Queen: A tribute to some of the places Her Majesty loved and inspired
Chalkmarks, Queen, south bank, London, England, 16/09/22

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 16th September 2022

Welcome to this week’s travel bulletin. How is everyone? We didn’t post our regular update on Friday. When news broke on the PA news wire at 6.30pm last Thursday evening, the Queen is dead, flags were lowered and the UK entered 10 days of mourning. Following the announcement, famous landmarks including the London Eye and the Eiffel Tower switched off their lights in tribute, and the national anthem was sung in theatres across the West End. As mourners made their way to royal residences to lay flowers, rainbows appeared over Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Putting out a newsletter about rail strikes and Tube price hikes didn’t seem right. London Bridge had fallen and we had a new King, Charles III. Here is his statement.
The most moving part perhaps is happening right now as hundreds of thousands of people queue for 14 hours to see Her Majesty lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. In the days to come a million wellwishers are expected to descend on London for the funeral on Monday.
This week’s edition is dedicated to the late Queen Elizabeth II: the places she loved, and those she inspired. Of course we also bring you what to expect this special Bank Holiday weekend in your round-up of the week’s travel headlines.

Wish you were here!

A lifelong journey: The Queen was the most travelled monarch having visited more than 100 countries across all four corners of the globe. She never even had a passport! There were Royal trains, planes, and even a cruise liner, the Royal Yacht Britannia, retired in 1997, and now one of Scotland’s greatest attractions, docked in Leith. Conde Nast Traveller called Her Majesty a travel icon, National Geographic said she was “gracious, determined, curious, confident, and long-lived” and Wanderlust magazine said simply she was the world’s greatest traveller. And that’s all true, she was a traveller, never a tourist. She’d go to places few visit even today and do everything from watching American football matches to attending banquets. She loved Canada and Australia – the two countries she visited the most. What a travel book that would have been to read. Sadly she didn’t make it to Peru – where her beloved Paddington Bear comes from.

Memories in Malta: Only in 2015 did The Queen stop travelling overseas. Her final trip with the late Prince Philip was to Malta. This small Mediterranean island was where the young Princess lived with her new husband for two years between 1949 and 1951, when Philip was stationed at HMS Magpie. The Evening Standard said it was the only place outside the UK The Queen called home. In her own words she said: “Malta was always very special to me. I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married.” Visit Malta posted pictures of the young couple in Villa Guardamangia.

Follow in her footsteps: Here Tatler magazine rounded-up The Queen’s top 10 travel trips starting with her Commonwealth Tour in 1953, followed by India in 1961, Russia in 1994 and South Africa in 1995. Time Out Travel gave us a run down of every country she had been to, and Wanderlust took us through the key hole as it revealed the five-star hotels the monarch had stayed in.

Green heart: From the age of 89, The Queen chose to staycation. In March 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she moved from Buckingham Palace, London, to live in Windsor Castle, Berkshire. It was there Prince Philip died in April 2021 and where the Queen will be laid to rest on Monday afternoon. During August, The Queen would move up to Balmoral Castle, in Scotland and for winter she would move on to Sandringham, Norfolk, to spend Christmas.

Scottish power: The Balmoral estate, built on a bend beside the River Dee and surrounded by pine trees, was the Queen’s holiday home and where she died on 8th September. Built from white granite, the castle in Aberdeenshire was also a favourite of her great-grandmother Queen Victoria. Known for its rugged picture postcard Scottish landscape, she’d spent every summer there since 1952. Her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie once said: “I think Granny is the most happy there, I think she really, really loves the Highlands… walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs.” The Telegraph gave us the history of the royal family in Scotland.

Mourning queues!

Are you in the queue? It was The Times front page on Monday that first warned about a “Five-mile queue for Queen” lying-in-state at Westminster Hall. Come reign or shine it gets longer and that five-mile queue is now here. The wait time this Friday morning is 14 hours with reports the queue could soon close as it reaches capacity. Currently it is stretching past Tower Bridge and into Southwark Park. Someone asked why they simply don’t drive The Queen along the queue and that would have been that. Good question. There’s no answer. The Spectator tells us how to survive it, which includes going prepared with decent books, podcasts, and food – we recommend marmalade sandwiches. Read how Tom Whipple at The Times survived.

Getting food should be easy. But expensive. If you’re in the West End why not break off and visit some of these places. Pix Pintxos is a tapas bar with a great menu and Said Roma is a chocolate-factory-come-store-come-café specialising in sweet treats and desserts. We recommend a thick molten chocolate cup, either dark, milk or hazelnut. Pop in here. But don’t expect to take home many souvenirs, says the Guardian, as royal memorabilia is selling out.

London is full: Millions are expected. With the funeral taking place at Westminster Abbey on Monday at 11am, hotel prices have soared in the capital. According to Simon Calder some rooms have gone up £1,500 a night – but that’s at the five-star Goring Hotel in Victoria, which is close to Buckingham Palace. Sky News reported that TfL fears London faces its “biggest challenge in history” – greater than the 2012 Olympic Games. Monitoring the crowds from a command centre, officials are said to be more concerned with mourners returning home when huge groups leave at once after the funeral rather than those arriving in smaller bursts.

Today, Saturday and Sunday: The Queen lying in state continues until 6.30am on Monday. For regular queue updates follow the DCMS live tracker which gives wait times and Royal Central. A one-minute silence will be held at 8pm.

Monday: This has become a national bank holiday to allow as many people as possible to watch the funeral. The Queen will be taken from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey in a grand military procession flanked by the Grenadier Guards in their red coats and tall black hats for the service at 11am. A two-minute silence will be held at 11.55am. Afterwards, the hearse will travel in a ceremonial procession to Windsor Castle where The Queen will be laid to rest with her father King George VI, mother Queen Elizabeth, sister Princess Margaret and her husband Prince Philip. PA Media has the route. And here is a full list of the events taking place across the country from the Cabinet Office.

Trains: Expect packed trains, even though around 1,000 extra have been put on over the next few days to cope with demand. Many operators are running throughout the night to bring people into London to see the Queen lying-in-state. King’s Cross, Victoria,Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Charing Cross and Euston will be open for 24 hours for shelter. The Evening Standard reported that train companies have said they will operate normal services on bank holiday Monday rather than a reduced timetable. Network Rail has said it has postponed any engineering work.

Tubes: For the first time since the Elizabeth Line opened it will run seven days, and from Sunday will have 12 trains an hour. Mourners arriving into London are advised to walk rather than take the Tube to minimise disruption. Transport for London has announced that Green Park station, closest to Buckingham Palace is already exit only. Westminster, St James’s Park and Hyde Park Corner will be closed to avoid overcrowding. Network Rail has warned of queues at Tube stations and has asked people who live closer to London “not to rush home” to allow those travelling longer distances to get earlier trains.

Roads: Drivers have been told to avoid central London as road restrictions are already in place ahead of the funeral. National Highways has also cancelled weekend motorway roadworks.

Flights: The Civil Aviation Authority has restricted aircraft flying over central London on Monday. Heathrow Airport has announced more than 100 flights will be cancelled to reduce noise, especially for the two-minute silence. No flights will take off 15 minutes before or after the service. British Airways is set to cancel 100 flights and Virgin Atlantic, four.

No Parc-ing: This week Center Parcs announced it would close its villages on Monday as a mark of respect to The Queen. This would mean holidaymakers having to pack up, leave their lodges and go home (or somewhere else) for one day, before returning on Tuesday. After very angry complaints on Twitter saying this isn’t what The Queen would have wanted, the company changed its mind but only to say guests could stay on site but that its facilities would remain closed. Butlin’s then piped up and told all its guests, “your break is going ahead as planned”. The BBC had the story.

In her honour: On Tuesday 17th May, the Queen officially opened London’s newest rail line, the purple Elizabeth Line, at Paddington Station. Looking bright in yellow, Her majesty unveiled a plaque and topped up her Oyster card before leaving by car – she never actually went underground. Initially called Crossrail, the project was renamed the Elizabeth Line in 2016 in honour of the Queen, by the then London Mayor – who was later to become prime minister…and then resign. Here’s our wrap on the history of the Tube. Where does it go? It has 41 stations, 10 of which are brand new. The new line stretches from Reading, Berkshire, to Shenfield, Essex. The Independent pulled together a list of the best places to visit along the new route.

Royal cities: For The Queen’s 70th Jubilee anniversary in June this year, we reported how eight new cities were created in her honour – and for the first time an overseas territory, Stanley on the Falkland Islands was granted city status. Also Douglas on the Isle of Man will become the first and only city on the island, just off the coast of northwest England, in the Irish Sea. In England, the towns that became cities include Colchester in Essex, Doncaster in South Yorkshire and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire; in Wales, Wrexham in Clwyd; in Scotland Dunfermline in Fife; and in Northern Ireland, Bangor in County Down.

Gibraltar became a city… again! This was a quirky story that slid into the papers which we also wrote about. It turns out that earlier this year the British Overseas Territory aka the Rock – just off the southern tip of Spain – had applied for city status during The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year. Researchers started digging through the National Archives and found it had already been granted by Queen Victoria in 1842 and nobody ever knew (…somehow) as it hadn’t made any official list of recognised UK cities in 180 years. Boris Johnson said it was “excellent” news. The BBC had the story.

The majesty of Britain: The Great West Way is one of England’s newest tourism projects designed to shift visitors out of the capital and into the rest of the country. It’s a 500-mile picturesque route from London to Bristol taking in three World Heritage Sites, royal palaces, and rolling English countryside. We wrote about it when it launched in March 2021.

Seen to be believed: London is very kind to its monarchs with 11 official royal homes to choose from. There are so many that if you said to a taxi driver “take me to the palace” they’d have to ask “which one?”. The most beautiful of all is the Palace of Westminster, better known as The Houses of Parliament, where The Queen lies-in-state. We think they should kick those stuffy politicians out. Westminster is just too beautiful for a place of politics. The hours of workmanship that must have gone into it is painstaking. The whole building looks as if it were hand carved to within an inch of its life. It also has the clock tower and the famous gong of Big Ben. Buckingham Palace is no place for kings and queens. It doesn’t even have turrets. It might be surrounded by parkland but Westminster sits on the Thames and is Unesco listed – just one of four sites in London that is. Here’s everything you need to know.

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