Queen Elizabeth II strongly refused to visit Soviet Union. She only agreed to visit Russia in 1994

Queen Elizabeth II, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Yuri Gagarin

Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully in Scotland on September 8. The crown passed to her son, Prince Charles, who took the throne name Charles III. His name is translated into Russian as Karl III, which is due to historic peculiarities of name translations.

Elizabeth II and Boris Yeltsin

Despite the fact that Elizabeth II ascended the throne back in 1952, the Queen was in no hurry to pay an official visit to the Soviet Union and then Russia. Her historical trip to Russia took place only after the collapse of the USSR.

On October 17, 1994, Elizabeth II landed in Moscow. First deputy chairman of the government, Oleg Soskovets, welcomed the Queen. Directly from the airport, they went to the Kremlin in a royal Rolls-Royce, where Russian President Boris Yeltsin was waiting for them.

During the banquet, both Yeltsin and Elizabeth delivered speeches. After Boris Yeltsin's speech, everyone stood up and raised their glasses for friendship and cooperation between Russian and British peoples. The Queen clinked glasses with President Yeltsin and his wife Naina, but she did not dare to drink.

Elizabeth II was the great-niece of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II. Her husband Philip also had family ties with the Romanovs. Because of the execution of the Russian Royal Family, the Queen had long refused to come to the USSR, because the regicides had never been condemned either legally or morally in the country.

Her "historical business trip" took place only after the collapse of the Union. The visit of Elizabeth II to Russia was agreed in February 1994 as a result of negotiations between the Russian Foreign Ministry and British Prime Minister John Major.

According to diplomatic protocol, if the monarch is going to visit a country that has a maritime border, then she — as a representative of the largest maritime power — must arrive or depart from there by sea. Since the Queen's main activity was planned for Moscow, St. Petersburg took over the obligatory maritime part of her visit.

Elizabeth spent tow days in Moscow. In addition to official events, the Queen visited Moscow School No. 20, which specialised in English language studies. She also toured cathedrals of the Kremlin and visited the Bolshoi Theater in the company of Prince Philip, Boris and Naina Yeltsin.

The Queen spent the next two days in St. Petersburg. Excursions were organized for her in the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Mariinsky Theater and, of course, in the Hermitage. Elizabeth II left an entry note in the book of the honored guests of the museum. On October 20, the British monarch gave a banquet on board the Britannia yacht, which had been docked in the port of St. Petersburg for a few days.

In parting, Elizabeth II gave Boris Yeltsin a box made of polished wood.

"I opened it, and it smelled like some kind of children's fairy tale — there were a bunch of drawers inside the box. The boxes contained bags of seeds. A whole collection of seeds from the royal garden. Naina (wife), Lena and Tanya (daughters — ed.) then studied those seeds of exotic flowers for a long time. They grew them up in a greenhouse. Some of them, unfortunately, never made it, but many flowers are thriving. The Royal Family left a long-lasting memory in our family garden,” Boris Yeltsin then recalled.

Elizabeth II and Vladimir Putin

In 2003, the Russian president made his hist official visit to the UK in 125 years. Queen Elizabeth invited Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila to Buckingham Palace. The Russian president took a ride in the famous royal carriage.

"Now we can look forward together, confidently agreeing with the route defined by the UN,” Elizabeth said during the banquet.

"Despite the disagreements that existed before, now we must act together,” Putin said.

Interestingly, Putin was 12 minutes late for his meeting with the Queen. In response, Elizabeth II was also 12 minutes late for seeing off the Russian president.

Elizabeth II and Yuri Gagarin

However, the first Russian citizen, who was invited to Buckingham Palace, was first man in space Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin paid a visit to Great Britain in 1961 and spent four days in the Kingdom. When asked what Gagarin was like, the Queen replied:

"Russian. He didn't speak English. But no no, he was fascinating. And I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating."

There are two legends about the dinner that Gagarin had with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. The first legend says that Yuri Gagarin broke protocol by touching the Queen's knee. The second one says that after drinking tea, Gagarin took a piece of lemon out of a cup and ate it. Elizabeth saw Gagarin doing that, liked the idea and did the same.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov
Editor Dmitry Sudakov