The most travelled monarch in history

On her 2011 tour of Australia she was greeted by hundreds and thousands of well-wishers, prompting commentators who'd previously dubbed this her farewell tour to ask, when will she be back again?

In the Republic of Ireland, with its troubled relationship with Britain, the Queen had a similarly enthusiastic reception.

The seasoned globetrotter is one of the most travelled royals in history, having been everywhere from Sweden to Samoa, and has visited over 325 countries in her lifetime.

As well as being our sovereign, she is also head of the Commonwealth – a voluntary association of 54 independent countries which were formerly under British rule.

On any official visit the Queen travels with up to six tons of luggage – an excessive amount perhaps, until you remember that she often has to deal with three or four outfit changes a day.

A lot of her air miles are clocked up cultivating relations.

The Queen has visited almost every country in the Commonwealth, some on many occasions.

Britain's close relationship to the United States, has meant several trans-Atlantic trips, and yielded some of the most memorable images of her reign.

On a tour of a US council estate in 1991 the monarch, who previously said that the unexpected tickles her, reacted with delight when a great-grandmother named Alice Fraiser rushed forward to welcome the visitor to her home with a hug, declaring: "This is my palace!".

As well as engaging with her subjects, she also inspires fellow leaders.  In 1995 she made a state visit to South Africa, a former member of the Commonwealth, where she met then President Nelson Mandela, who referred to her as "my friend Elizabeth" and described her as "a great stabilising factor".