Royalty

Why Elizabeth II is the Queen of Technology

By Alex Wood 9 September 2015
Summary

Elizabeth II’s love of technology connects her to millions and makes her one of the most popular monarchs in recent memory.

Today Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, celebrates her 90th birthday.

Tributes will be held across Britain and the Commonwealth, but today The Memo also celebrates her love of new technology, which has seen her become the first Royal in history to embrace email, 3D television, podcasts and even Twitter during her 63 years as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

Here are some of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth has become the most early-adopting ruler of all time:

1953 Coronation – World’s first major televised event in 3D

From the very beginning of her reign, Elizabeth recognised the power of the media to connect with subjects from across the world.

Despite Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s protests, the Queen insisted her coronation would take place before TV cameras. It was recorded in an early experimental 3D format, colour and black and white.

The TV broadcast was in black and white and went on to be watched by 20.4 million people. Half a million TV sets were sold in the lead up and a reported average of seven and a half people crowded around every set in the country to catch a glimpse.

The Coronation captured the nation’s interest and led to rapid increases in TV ownership and a new era for the media in Britain.

1957 – First televised Queen’s speech

Continuing her love of television in 1957 the Queen became the first monarch to broadcast her Christmas message on television.

At the time freak weather conditions caused American police radio to interfere with the broadcast and at one point some listeners heard an officer say: “Joe, I’m gonna grab a quick coffee.”

In her speech Queen Elizabeth praised the benefits of new technology:

“That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us … television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes”

It took another 10 years before the Christmas speech was broadcast in colour.

1976 – Royal email

Years before it became part of our everyday lives, the Queen became the first Monarch to send an email during a visit to an army base.

Email continued to be an essential communication tool for both academia and the military for decades before it saw mass adoption in the 1990s.

1997 – First website

During a difficult year for the British Monarchy following the tragic death of Lady Diana, The Queen launched her first website, during a visit to Kinsgbury High School in London.

2006 – Into the internet era with first podcast and Youtube channel

A whole year before the launch of the long-awaited first Apple iPhone, the Queen told a bold step into the internet era by making her Christmas message available as a podcast for the first time.

Subscribers could access the podcast through both iTunes and the British Monarchy website.

There were rumours the Queen has bought her first iPod with 6GB of memory a year earlier in June 2005, but Buckingham Palace refused to comment.

A year later in 2007 the Queen launched the first Royal Channel on Youtube. Since then every Christmas message has been uploaded to the service.

Watch the Queen upload her first clip to Youtube:

2010 – The social era

In 2010 the British Monarchy joined the social media revolution by launching its first Flickr and Facebook accounts.

A year later Instagram followed and the Queen now boasts millions of followers across all three platforms.

2012 – 3D Christmas message

After jumping out of a plane into the Olympic stadium as part of her James Bond cameo appearance during the opening ceremony celebrations, Queen Elizabeth decided to celebrate the advance of technology during her reign to mark her diamond jubilee by broadcasting in 3D.

At the time Buckingham Palace said:

“We wanted to do something a bit different and special in this jubilee year, so doing it for the first time in 3D seemed a good thing, technology-wise, to do. The Queen absolutely agreed straight away – there was no need for convincing at all – she was absolutely ready to embrace something new this year.”

When reviewing the footage she wore no ordinary 3D glasses. Her specially made spectacles were encased in Swarovski crystals forming the letter Q on each side:

2014 – A Royal Tweet

The Queen marked the opening of a new exhibition on the Information Age at London’s Science Museum by sending her first tweet.

As many pundits pointed out at the time, the moment when the Queen appeared to tweet on an iPad was actually staged, as metadata later revealed the tweet had been sent by an iPhone.