Ahead of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, we look at the technology the monarch was known to use during her reign.
Queen Elizabeth II very much embraced and enjoyed technology and the Queen’s reign of 70 years meant that she was able to witness, use, and enjoy technology as we would understand it right from its earliest development. So, what kinds of tech did the late monarch famously use?
In her role as head of state, global as well as national travel was a must and Queen Elizabeth II used a variety of the world’s most high-tech vehicles for their time, including:
- London’s tube. In 1969, Queen Elizabeth II opened London’s Victoria tube line, which, of course, was named after her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. On that occasion Queen Elizabeth II took the tube from Oxford Circus to Victoria station. The London Underground, however, long pre-dates Queen Elizabeth II, and was opened in 1863. The Metropolitan Railway between Paddington and Farringdon was the first, urban, underground railway in the world.
- Concorde, the now retired supersonic passenger aircraft, upon which she was a passenger on its inaugural Barbados to London flight during her Silver Jubilee year (1977). She is also reported to have used it many more times including to Kuwait in 1979, to Barbados in 1987 and 2003, to the Middle East in 1984 and USA in the early 90s.
- Queen Elizabeth II also used some of the most up-to-date models of state cars. These included the Bentley Bentayga (4×4), launched in 2015, the Daimler Super V8 LWB including controls for hidden blue strobe lights and phone fittings to enable direct contact with Downing Street, and a Range Rover LWB Landaulet.
- The young (then Princess) Elizabeth (with her sister Margaret) famously made her first public speech on 13 October 1940, using the main technology of the day – radio. The wartime broadcast addressed the children of the Commonwealth, many of them living away from home as evacuees.
- TV Broadcast television started in the UK in 1936, was stopped during the war, and resumed in 1946. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was not only a huge boost to the sales of TV sets but was also filmed in colour and was recorded using experimental 3D technology.
- In 2007, Queen Elizabeth also famously spoke via video link from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, US, to astronauts on the International Space Station.
Devices and Gadgets – Mobile Phone & MP3 Player
- Back in 2009, President Obama gave Queen Elizabeth II an official gift of an iPod which had Broadway music and a songbook for The King and I on it, and footage of her 2007 visit to the US. The Queen was reported to have been delighted with the gift.
- Queen Elizabeth II was first given a mobile phone back in 2010, and later upgraded to a Samsung (reportedly given encryption by MI6). There are reports that royal commentator Jonathan Sacerdoti said that she only answered it to Princess Anne and her racing manager John Warren.
- In her Diamond Jubilee, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II added a Galaxy Note tablet, loaded with recorded memories of the last 60 years to the Royal Collection. Queen Elizabeth II is also known to have used an iPad from 2020 for her many Zoom calls during the pandemic.
Email and Social Media
- Queen Elizabeth II was the first monarch to send an email, way back in 1976! On March 26 that year, Elizabeth II send an early form of e-mail from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern as a part of a demonstration of networking technology.
- In 2019, the Queen made her first Instagram post where she highlighted the details of a letter sent to Prince Albert by computer inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage. In the letter (1843), he told Albert about his Analytical Engine, a machine which could perform calculations using punched cards and had a memory unit to store numbers.
- In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II sent her first ever tweet while opening an information technology gallery at the Science Museum. The Tweet to 724,000 followers of the @BritishMonarchy account, read: “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.”
Lockdown Zoom Calls
Back in 2020, the Queen made the news for taking to Zoom calls from her iPad, such as Zoom calls in May that year to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to celebrate Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s birthday, and an official call with Princess Anne and the leaders of the Carers Trust charity. She also famously joked in a Zoom meeting with Australian of the Year award winners, teasing them about their Parliament building.
A Lifetime of Service
During her lifetime Queen Elizabeth II was able to witness and try the early incarnations of the technologies that are used widely today. Her love of science and her advocation for innovation meant that she was always keen to embrace new technologies. Queen Elizabeth II gave a lifetime of service and was loved around the world, widely regarded as being gracious, wise, and knowledgeable, she showed character and values that reflected well on us all.
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