Queen Elizabeth II
On the 8 th of September, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second passed away after 70 years on the throne. Queen of not only the United Kingdom, but also 14 other countries (although that number was 32 at one point during her reign), she was Head of State of a large percentage of the world’s population. This of course meant she travelled the globe, as one of the world’s longest reigning leaders and best diplomats, making her the most well-travelled world leader in history.
This globe trotting means she managed to notch up 117 countries. Many of these countries were members of the Commonwealth and those she was Head of State of, and of course many were fellow monarchies.
Queen Elizabeth travelled to Iran in 1961 where she was hosted by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was well known for his love of all things western and his wanting to move Iran closer to Europe. That being said, he also tried to show Iranian culture and history as being strong and dynamic. This led to exorbitant and grandiose displays of power and prestige, something the Queen and Prince Philip experienced in Iran. Not a penny was spared in putting on extravagant state dinners
The last Shah of Iran was indeed a polarizing figure: most Iranians either love him or hate him, and still do. He ruled Iran for 37 years and became gradually more autocratic and intolerant towards the end. He followed his father’s project of the modernization of Iran, and the windfall of oil revenues, especially in the 1970s, gave him free hand and more power to realize his vision of Iran. But his achievements were mixed, and subject to different interpretations.
Of course, as we know now, his downfall would come in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, the majority of Iranians sick of what they saw as the extreme waste and self-indulgence of the Shah and the ruling family.
Her Majesty travelled to Saudi Arabia in 1979. Strangely enough, the Saudi Arabia that Her Majesty travelled to in 1979 was not as conservative as today, with many of the strict rules coming in the 1980s. However, the Queen was still bound by rules that usually would not apply to her, including her clothes being mandated and banning her from drinking alcohol. Furthermore, in order to facilitate the completely smooth running of her official visit, she was made an honorary man for the duration of her stay. At their royal banquet, there were 120 guests, 116 of them men, while the Queen and her three Ladies in Waiting made up the other four.
Of course, the most famous incident involving the Queen and the Saudi Royal family was in 2003 when the then Crown Prince Abdullah visited Balmoral in Scotland. The Queen had suggested a tour of the Royal Estate, to which the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia agreed. To the Crown Prince’s shock, Queen Elizabeth got behind the wheel of the car, something illegal in Saudi Arabia at the time, and sped off. The narrow country roads of Scotland can be hair raising at the best of times, but having spent every summer of her life there, she knew the roads and made sure to give the now Saudi King the scare of his life. Apparently he begged and pleaded for her to slow down, however his pleas were ignored and the Queen definitely showed her Saudi guests who was boss.
The Queen was an incredible and unique lady and will be missed by many. RIP.