As we mourn the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, let’s take a look at how she embraced technology throughout her reign, alongside some of the technology products she loved or were devoted to her.
In the year of the Queen’s birth, 1926, she saw the first demonstration of the mechanical television, with the first electric television the year after. It was an era when less than half of British homes had an electricity supply that was delivered using an incompatible range of voltages and frequencies by mostly coal-powered generators. Ahead of her coronation in 1953, sales of televisions rocketed and the ceremony was broadcast by the BBC, although in black and white.
Throughout her reign the Queen adapted to the greatest period of technological change in human history, using the opportunity to remind us that it is not our technology, but our values that define us.
As the world adapted to technological change it was not just the monarchy which she strove to keep relevant, regularly using new inventions to address how she could “seem a rather remote figure […] someone whose face may be familiar […] but who never really touches your personal lives” but also our image of ourselves in face of this change. Those quoted words were spoken in the Queen’s Christmas broadcast in 1957, the first to be televised.
“I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct,” she said of the landmark.
She would reflect in 2017 on how, “six decades on, the presenter of that broadcast has ‘evolved’ somewhat“, as has the technology she described but that original televised address seems enduringly relevant.
Technology itself continued to develop at pace. The Queen sent her first email on 26 March 1976 using a military machine connected to the ARPANET, a computer network that would lead to the internet as we know it, under the username of HME2.
In her Christmas 1983 broadcast, the year Apple released its first commercial personal computer with a graphical user interface, she noted how it took her grandfather George V three months to make the round trip to Delhi, a journey which she had recently completed in hours, and marvelled at the “communication revolution“.
The World Wide Web would be launched a decade later, and the Queen’s first Christmas broadcast to be published on the internet was made in 1997. On the brink of the new millennium in her 1999 message, the Queen said: “As I look to the future, I have no doubt at all that the one certainty is change – and the pace of that change will only seem to increase.”
In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II made her first post on Twitter, and in 2019 her first post on Instagram, describing her pleasure in learning about children’s computer coding initiatives.
The date and medium may have changed, but throughout her reign the message of welcoming the innovations of the future whilst cherishing the wisdom of the past did not. As she said in 1999: “I do not think that we should be over-anxious. We can make sense of the future – if we understand the lessons of the past.
“The future is not only about new gadgets, modern technology or the latest fashion, important as these may be. At the centre of our lives – today and tomorrow – must be the message of caring for others, the message at the heart of Christianity and of all the great religions. This message – love thy neighbour as thyself – may be for Christians 2,000 years old. But it is as relevant today as it ever was. I believe it gives us the guidance and the reassurance we need as we step over the threshold into the twenty-first century. And I for one am looking forward to this new millennium.”
Samsung’s Royal Warrant
A Royal Warrant does not come about every day and does not last forever. The Queen was noted to be quite fond of her Samsung products and in May earlier this year that warrant was renewed. Issued since the 15th century, Royal Warrants are provided to businesses that supply goods or services to royal personages. If you are a monarchist there is no greater stamp of approval to a brand than the one provided by the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Samsung is now a recognized Supplier of Consumer Electronics Products and will deliver a wider range of goods and appliances to the household.
Swatch Released Watch Line in Honour of Platinum Jubilee
In celebration of global icon Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Swatch released their watch line ‘How Majestic‘. The line was an uplifting homage to the Queen thanks to the calendar wheel that changes the outfit daily to reflect her colourful signature style. Some days will be orange, then purple, pink, and green. The Queen complete with her statement hat, brooch, and bag, is depicted next to one of her beloved corgis, a constant and loyal companion. Lending a regal touch, the gold crown sits above the Swatch logo, and the 70 gold dots represent the Queen’s 70-year reign.