All the while, the Queen was looking at new technologies

The Queen donned 3D glasses to watch a display and pilot a JCB excavator at the University of Sheffield in 2010 (Credit: Getty)

The Queen has seen all kinds of new technology over the years – much of which has shaped the world we live in today.

From supermarket self-checkout systems to early e-mail systems, she viewed innovation with an impressed—and sometimes skeptical—eye.

Her interest mirrors that of royals before her, such as her great-great-grandfather Prince Albert.

Queen Victoria’s husband became interested in early computer technology after observing a prototype of computer scientist Charles Babbage’s proposed “Different Machine”.

Babbage later wrote to the Prince personally to share more information about his pioneering work.

Continuing the tradition, Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted exploring new technologies throughout her reign.

4 June 2020: The Queen joins her first lockdown video call

Sharing a Buckingham Palace-issued screenshot of Queen Elizabeth II and The Princess Royal as they engage in a video call with carers supported by the Carers Trust.  PA photo.  Issue date: Thursday 11 June 2020 The monarch spoke to four carers and the trust's chief executive Gareth Howells on June 4 from Windsor Castle.  Check out PA ROYAL Queen's story.  Photo credit should read: Carer's Trust/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This giveaway photo may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for contemporary illustration of events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption.  Reuse of the photo may require additional permission from the copyright holder.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Princess Royal take part in a video call with carers supported by the Carers Trust during the lockdown (Credit: PA)

Sitting comfortably in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, the Queen joined her first video call since the coronavirus shut down the country.

Queen Elizabeth called in to speak to four carers about the difficulties they are facing during the pandemic. She was joined by her daughter, Princess Anna, who patiently helped her get started on Webex video chat.

The Queen has continued to embrace video calling technology and in 2021 held 118 of her 192 engagements virtually.

During the blockade, the staff of the royal household was called “HMS Bubble”. And even after the lockdown was lifted, the Queen continued to use video calling technology to carry out some of her engagements.

May 22, 2019: The Queen uses a self-checkout machine at a supermarket

Queen Elizabeth Self Check

Queen Elizabeth II is shown at a self-service checkout in 2019 (Photo: Jeremy Selwyn – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

During a visit to mark the 150th anniversary of the Sainsbury supermarket, Queen Elizabeth observed a self-checkout machine, possibly for the first time.

Inquiring about the device’s security measures, she was pleased to learn that it contained scales to prevent customers from sneaking extra products past the scanners.

She was also shown a shopping app, which she called an “interesting tool.”

October 24, 2014: The Queen sends her first tweet from a tablet

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Queen Elizabeth II sends her first tweet while visiting the Information Age exhibition at the Science Museum on October 24, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II sends her first tweet while visiting the Information Age exhibition at the Science Museum in 2014 (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II was filmed sending her first tweet from a tablet at the Science Museum in London.

She was there for the museum’s “Information Age” exhibit, which marked the evolution of communications technology over the years.

October 2008: The Queen explores Windsor Castle – from Google Maps

Queen at Google HQ

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are seen visiting Google’s headquarters on Buckingham Palace Road in London (Image: Colin Davy)

During a tour of Google’s UK headquarters, the Queen uploaded a video to YouTube and took home a plaque with some of the search engine’s code.

She and Prince Philip also had the chance to see familiar sights from the comfort of a computer screen. They were given a Google Maps tour that included both Big Ben and Windsor Castle.

May 8, 2007: The Queen visits a NASA space flight center

Queen and NASA

Queen Elizabeth II talks to three astronauts on the International Space Station (Image: PA)

Queen Elizabeth II showed an interest in technology used beyond our planet by visiting NASA’s Goddard Flight Center in Maryland, USA, in 2007.

During the trip, she watched a demonstration of a visualization system, toured the satellite building facilities and even had a video call with the astronauts on the space station.

8 October 2001: The Queen examines a flashing baton

Queen examines a glow stick

Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the Queen’s Relay for Birmingham 2022 (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

In 2001, Queen Elizabeth II was photographed holding an electronic baton in honor of the Commonwealth Games. The device’s blue light is designed to flash in sync with the wearer’s heartbeat.

Like the Olympic torch, a ceremonial baton traditionally travels around numerous Commonwealth nations to mark the games held every four years.

This year’s iteration was more high-tech than ever, containing an image sensor, GPS, LED lights and a mechanized camera containing the Queen’s message to the Commonwealth.

2 November 1977: The Queen inspects a Concorde aircraft

Queen Elizabeth aboard the supersonic Concorde

The Queen reads newspapers on her flight home from Bridgetown, Barbados, in the supersonic Concorde following her Silver Jubilee tour of Canada and the West Indies (Image: PA/EMPICS)

Queen Elizabeth II inspects the cockpit of a Concorde supersonic jet she took from Bridgetown, Barbados in 1977.

She took the flight home from a Commonwealth tour marking her Silver Jubilee.

March 26, 1976: The Queen sends a really, really early email

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles during a visit to the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, October 30, 2003. She wears a Philip Somerville hat.  /WPA POOL (Photo should read KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP via Getty Images)

The Queen has seen all kinds of new technology over the years – much of which has shaped the world we live in today (Image: AFP

The Queen was sending e-mails as far back as 1976 – years before commercial firms like AOL began offering services to the common man.

The content of her message was highly technical, telling users of an early computer network called “ARPANET” that they could now use the “Coral 66” language.

Although, as computer scientist Peter Kirstein told WIRED, he’s set up the system so that all it has to do is “push a few buttons.”

In case you’re interested, the email reads: “This message to all ARPANET users announces the availability on the ARPANET of the Coral 66 compiler provided by the GEC 4080 computer at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern, England,” the message reads. “Coral 66 is the standard high-level real-time language adopted by the Department of Defense.”

12 December 1967: The Queen observes a telescope

The Queen observes a telescope

Queen Elizabeth II looks through a telescope at St Paul’s Cathedral (Image: Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

The Queen was photographed walking around the massive Isaac Newton Telescope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Hertstmonceux, Sussex in 1967.

She was there to unveil the telescope, which included a 98-inch mirror donated by the US. Isaac Newton would later be moved to La Palma in the Canary Islands, where he would receive an even larger mirror.

She went on to relaunch the Observatory’s historic 28-inch refracting telescope nearly a decade later.

5 December 1958: The Queen makes a long-distance call

In 1958, Queen Elizabeth II made a long distance (aka “trunk”) call to the Lord Chancellor of Edinburgh.

It is the first ever direct-dial long distance call in the UK, according to the Telephone Museum. It was made by Bristol Central Telephone Exchange.

You can watch her look at the phone tech display before actually making the call in the video above. She says: “This is the Queen speaking from Bristol. Good afternoon, my lord rector.

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