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How the Queen has embraced technology over the years

Handout photo issued by Buckingham Palace of Queen Elizabeth II publishing her first Instagram post during a visit to the Science Museum for the announcement of their summer exhibition “Top Secret” in Kensington, London.
Handout photo issued by Buckingham Palace of Queen Elizabeth II publishing her first Instagram post during a visit to the Science Museum for the announcement of their summer exhibition “Top Secret” in Kensington, London.

The Queen’s life has been steeped in tradition, but she has kept up with the vast technological advances during her reign of nearly 70 years.

The 96-year-old monarch took part in her first official video conference call in 2020 as part of her public duties, following in the footsteps of other royals as engagements went online during the pandemic.

In the early years of her reign, she recorded her first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957 and spoke of the “speed at which things change around us”.

The Queen on TV
The Queen’s first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957 (PA)

The grainy black and white picture of a young Elizabeth was one of the first strides taken by the monarchy to ensure she was up to date with her ever-changing nation.

Since then, the Queen has seen the advent of colour television, mobile phones, the internet and social media.

Under her command, television cameras were allowed inside Westminster Abbey for the first time to film her coronation, although she had initial reservations.

Five years later, the Queen made the UK’s first trunk call when she spoke from Bristol to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh 300 miles away.

Coronation Day
The view seen by television viewers immediately after the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the crown upon the Queen’s head during the coronation (PA)

In 1976, during a visit to an Army base, she became the first monarch to send an email when the technology was in its infancy.

Her website, which began as www.royal.gov.uk, was set up in 1997 during a visit to Kingsbury High School in Brent, north west London.

However, it was reported that the Queen took some time to acquaint herself with certain devices.

In 2005, she is said to have told Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, that she had not yet used a computer.

The first trunk call
The Queen speaks on a telephone at the Bristol exchange making Britain’s first subscriber trunk dialled telephone call in 1958 (PA)

The Queen is said to have had a BlackBerry in the past, which she used to check her emails on the move on the advice of her most tech-savvy son, the Duke of York.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie explained the concept of video sharing on YouTube before the British monarchy launched its own channel on the site in 2007.

In 2006, the Queen’s annual Christmas address was sent as a podcast for the first time.

She personally uploaded a video to YouTube during a visit to Google’s London offices in 2008.

Launch of the Royal Website
The Queen visited Kingsbury High School, Brent, to launch the royal website in 1997 (Fiona Hanson/PA)

The Queen strode into the social media sphere and allowed aides to create a Facebook page and Twitter and Flickr accounts, and then an Instagram profile.

She has also owned a number of iPods – one reportedly given to her as a gift by then US president Barack Obama and another from the Duke of Cambridge – which were said to contain classical music, including the Last Night Of The Proms.

But the impact of changing technology has not always been welcomed by the monarch.

She reportedly said she found it strange to be greeted by a sea of mobiles when out on engagements as members of the public attempted to take her picture on their camera phones.

The Queen's first tweet
The Queen sends her first royal tweet to declare the opening of the new Information Age Galleries at the Science Museum in London (Chris Jackson/PA)

In October 2014, the Queen passed a new technological milestone when she sent her first tweet to mark the opening of a new Science Museum gallery.It read: “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.”

In 2019, she shared images, also from the Science Museum, on Instagram for the first time.

Touching an iPad screen, she posted photos on the official royal family account of a letter from 19th century inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage to Prince Albert.

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