In pictures: The Queen's many visits to Wales during her 70 year reign

Queen Elizabeth II as she visits Cyfarthfa High School and Cyfarthfa Castle Museum in Merthyr for her Diamond Jubilee Tour in 2012. Credit: PA Images

The Queen paid many visits to Wales over the years both before and after her accession to the throne in 1952. Her final visit before her death was to open the sixth term of the Senedd in October 2021. We look back at the Queen’s time in Wales in pictures.

Princess Elizabeth holding out both hands to the Archdruid 'Crys' in Mountain Ash. Credit: PA Images

Princess Elizabeth travelled to Mountain Ash which in 1946 played host to the Welsh National Eisteddfod.

The Princess was initiated into the Gorsedd of Bards of Britain, a society of Welsh-language poets, writers, musicians and others who have contributed to the Welsh language and to public life in Wales. She was given the title 'Elizabeth of Windsor'.

Princess Elizabeth arriving at the Grand Ring, accompanied by Col. H. C. Batten, D.S.O., the Steward of the Ring. Credit: PA Images

In 1948, Princess Elizabeth visited the Bath and West and Southern Countries Show at Cardiff. Earlier in the day, the Princess received the Freedom of Cardiff, given to those whom the City wishes to bestow an honour.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Civic Centre of Newport as part of her two day Coronation tour of Wales. Credit: PA Images

On 6th February 1952, Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI.

Five weeks after her coronation in June 1953, Elizabeth II made her first official visit to Wales as Queen.

The two-day tour began in Newport and included visits to Cardiff, Pontypridd, Caernarfon, Rhyl, Wrexham and Llangollen.

Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Duke of Edinburgh entering the Welsh fortress of Caernarfon Castle during a two day visit to Wales. Credit: PA Images

In August 1955, the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, embarked on a royal tour to fulfill duties in Wales, the Isle of Man and Scotland.

Accompanied by a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne, they visited spots including Brecon, the Rhondda, Llandovery, St David’s, Milford Haven, Aberystwyth and Pembroke.

A young Prince Charles and Princess Anne prepare to accompany their parents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, on their 1955 royal tour. Credit: PA

In August 1960, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff, where the duke was initiated Honorary Ovate of the Gorsedd of Bards, with the title 'Philip Meirionnydd'.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh walk to the pavilion of the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales at Sophia Gardens Field, Cardiff. Credit: PA Images
Queen Elizabeth II with Barbara Castle, the Minister for Transport, as they leave after viewing the new Severn Bridge. Credit: PA Images

In September 1966, the Queen officially opened the Severn Bridge, which allowed for safe and accessible travel between Wales and England across the River Severn.

Just weeks later, a colliery spoil tip collapsed and engulfed the village of Aberfan, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Aberfan eight days later to pay their respects and offer comfort to the bereaved.

It has been reported that the Queen felt she had left it too late after the tragedy to visit Aberfan, deeming it her greatest regret.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh view the destruction to the village of Aberfan after the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil-tip. Credit: PA Images
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh follow the point of local resident Councillor Jim Williams, who lost seven members of his family. Credit: PA
The Queen met with villagers following the disaster in 1966. Credit: National Library of Archive Wales

In December 1968, the first phase of the Royal Mint’s headquarters in Llantrisant were opened by the Queen.

She switched on the coining presses to begin production of bronze coins, in preparation for the introduction of the decimal coinage in 1971.

The Queen at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant in 1968. Credit: PA

The Queen’s eldest son, Charles, was made Prince of Wales when he was nine-years-old, but it was 11 years until his investiture took place in July 1969.

The Queen led the ceremony at Caernarfon Castle, with both Welsh and English spoken.

In addition to the 4,000 guests inside the castle walls, thousands more waited outside and millions around the world watched it on television.

Queen Elizabeth II investing her son as the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. Credit: PA Images
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh with the Prince of Wales during his investiture at Caernarfon Castle. Credit: PA Images

In 1971, the Queen visited Cardiff to officially open a new district general hospital, the University Hospital of Wales. The Queen met patients and praised not only frontline teams but the many hundreds of staff that play a vital role behind the scenes.

Queen Elizabeth II talking with Margaret Ryan, centre, a patient at the University Hospital of Wales. Credit: PA Images

Royal tours have marked key accession anniversaries for the Queen with the silver, gold and diamond jubilees in 1977, 2002 and 2012, respectively. 

Each jubilee has seen people across Wales celebrating the occasion with colourful street parties and parades.

The Queen in Llandudno during her Silver Jubilee tour of Wales. Credit: PA Images
Elizabeth II during a visit to Dolau, near Builth Wells, where 10,000 people turned out to greet her on her Wales Golden Jubilee visit. Credit: PA Images
The Queen studies artefacts at the refurbished General Offices of the former steelworks in Ebbw Vale on her Diamond Jubilee tour of Wales. Credit: PA Images

Wales has changed significantly during Queen Elizabeth II's reign, notably with the creation of its own government.

The Queen opened the first National Assembly for Wales in 1999, declaring it "a new and significant direction in the way Wales is governed… a moment of renewal, true to the spirit of Wales".

The Queen arrives at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff in 1999. Credit: PA Images

On 1 March 2006 - St David’s Day - the Queen officially opened the newly built Senedd building, where Assembly Members gather for Plenary.

Queen Elizabeth II listens as British architect Lord Richard Rogers shows her a model of the Senedd in Cardiff. Credit: PA Images

The Queen has opened every session following an election since 1999, with her final visit to Wales in October 2021 to open the sixth term in the Welsh Parliament.

The Queen told the Senedd it was a “source of pleasure" that her family "have had homes in Wales and experienced its very special sense of community". 

The Queen on her final visit to Wales, and the Senedd, in October 2021. Credit: PA

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