Queen ensures that tradition keeps pace with technology

The Queen’s life is steeped in tradition, but she has kept up with the huge technological advances that have occurred during her reign.

She saw the advent of popular color television, cell phones, the Internet, and social media.

In her first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957, the Queen spoke of “the speed with which things are changing around us”.

The grainy black-and-white photo of a young Elizabeth wearing a glittering gown with a string of pearls around her neck represents an important step for the royal family.

It was one of the first bold steps taken by the monarch to ensure he kept up with the ever-changing nation.

The Queen’s first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957 (Pennsylvania)

“Twenty-five years ago, my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes,” she said.

“That you are able to see me today is just another example of the speed with which things are changing all around us.”

It was under her command that television cameras were allowed into Westminster Abbey for the first time to film her coronation – although she had initial reservations.

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

More than half a million additional televisions were sold in the weeks leading up to the 1953 event.

Five years later, the Queen made the first telephone conversation in the United Kingdom.

Speaking from Bristol, she called the Lord Chancellor of Edinburgh 300 miles away.

The first trunk call
The Queen speaks on the telephone at the Bristol Exchange, making the first British payphone call in 1958 (Pennsylvania)

“In time the whole of the United Kingdom will be enjoying the benefits of this new service that the Post Office has introduced,” she told him before ringing off the bell.

The call lasted two minutes five seconds and cost 10d (4p).

When email technology was in its infancy, the Queen became the first monarch to send one of the electronic messages in 1976 during a visit to a military base.

At International Computers Ltd
The Queen walks through the main computer room of International Computers Ltd (Tony Harris/Pennsylvania)

But the Queen continued to stick to traditional methods of communication such as letters and telegrams.

Her own website, which began as www.royal.gov.uk, was created in 1997 while attending Kingsbury High School in Brent, north-west London.

However, it has been reported that the Queen has taken some time to familiarize herself with certain devices.

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

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

Later, she ensured that her household embraced the Internet and other great advances so that the monarchy remained at the forefront of technology.

The Queen is said to have owned a BlackBerry at one stage so she could check her emails on the go.

She is said to have purchased one of the devices on the advice of her most tech-savvy son, the Duke of York.

The Queen is looking at Blackberry
The Queen is shown a BlackBerry as she tours the Research in Motion factory in Canada in 2010 (John Stillwell/PA)

Her grandchildren are said to have been extremely helpful in keeping her abreast of the latest technological trends.

The concept of the video-sharing website YouTube was explained to her by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie before she launched her own channel on the site in 2007 to promote the British monarchy.

In 2006, her annual Christmas address was also broadcast as a podcast for the first time.

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

This Google
The Queen visits Google’s UK headquarters (Colin Davey/Daily Mail/PA)

To mark the visit, the search engine changed its logo for the day to include a profile of the monarch and a crown.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding was streamed live on the site.

The day after the royal wedding, the Royal YouTube channel was the most viewed channel on YouTube.

In 2009, the Queen emailed 23 young people from around the world who blogged about their lives and experiences of the Commonwealth, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The Queen entered the realm of social media and allowed her aides to set up a Facebook page and Twitter and Flickr accounts, and then an Instagram account.

She also owned several iPods – one said to have been given to her by then US President Barack Obama and another from her grandson William – said to contain classical music, including Last Night Of The Proms.

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

She is reported to have said she finds it strange to be greeted by a sea of ​​mobile phones when she is on engagements as members of the public try to take pictures of her on their camera phones.

Selfie date in Belfast
A teenager tries to take a selfie in front of the Queen during a walk around St George’s Market in Belfast (Peter McDiarmid/Pennsylvania)

US Ambassador Matthew Barzun revealed that the monarch actually told him she lacked eye contact.

The Queen also voiced her concerns that children are being drawn to computer games and e-books instead of reading traditional paper books as she presented author Joan Harris with an MBE for services to literature.

Mrs Harris said: “She asked me what I thought about e-books and computer games and said she was concerned that children were playing with them more than they were reading books.”

In October 2014, the Queen crossed a new technological milestone when she sent her first tweet – to mark the opening of a new Science Museum gallery.

Tapping the tablet screen, the monarch posted the pre-typed message on the social networking service via the official @BritishMonarchy Twitter account.

It read: “Delighted to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and hope people enjoy the visit.

“Elizabeth R.”

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

The message was retweeted more than 40,000 times.

But, in keeping with one of the Internet’s failings, it also attracted instant abuse from Twitter trolls.

“We’ve seen some tweets with foul language, but that’s just the nature of the format,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman candidly admitted at the time.

The monarch also tweeted her thanks for all the “digital messages of goodwill” she received to mark her official 90th birthday in 2016 – again signing off as Elizabeth R.

In 2019, the Queen posted an image on Instagram for the first time while viewing a new exhibition at the Science Museum called Top Secret.

Tapping the iPad screen, she shared photos on the royal family’s official account of a letter from 19th-century inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage to Prince Albert.

The Queen’s message told how she had the “pleasure to learn about children’s computer coding initiatives” during her visit to the Science Museum, which “has long supported technology, innovation and inspired the next generation of inventors”.

In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen has adopted a new way of working, as the royal family switched to video calls to carry out their engagements behind closed doors.

The monarch, then 94, took part in his first official video conference call as part of his public duties on June 4 that year, talking to carers with the Princess Royal.

The Queen has also made numerous virtual visits during the Covid-19 crisis.

She noted during a video call to mark KPMG’s 150th anniversary: ​​”Well, thank God for technology so one can still do this.”

For the first time, it held its Privy Council meetings via video link, received the oath of allegiance from a newly appointed archbishop online and held virtual diplomatic audiences for foreign ambassadors.

Meanwhile, while the Windsors have been apart during the lockdown, the Queen has been keeping in touch with her royal relatives using Zoom and FaceTime.

She even received a video call from her great-grandson Archie Mountbatten-Windsor with his parents the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the US on her 94th birthday in April 2020.

In December 2020, the Queen’s Christmas message was delivered entirely via Alexa smart devices for the first time.

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