The year the Queen was born, 1926, saw the first demonstration of the mechanical television set, with the first electric telecommunication telephone following the following year.
It was an era when less than half of homes in the UK had an electrical supply and were powered by an incompatible range of voltages and frequencies by a series of mostly coal-fired generators.
Before her coronation in 1953, sales – and rentals – of televisions had skyrocketed and the ceremony was televised by the BBC to an average of 17 people per group, even though the photographs were in black and white.
At the time, computers did exist but they were rare, used only for calculations, and often larger than cars. Today, of course, they are essential to almost every aspect of our lives, smaller than shoes and even less common.
During her reign, the Queen has adapted to the greatest period of technological change in human history – using the opportunity to remind us that it is not our technologies but their value. we define ourselves.
As the world adapts to technological change, it’s not just the monarchy she tries to keep in line – frequently using new inventions to tackle how she can “seems to be That’s a pretty far-fetched number […] someone may know face […] but who never really touches your personal life” as she describes it – but also our image of ourselves in the face of this change.
Those quoted words were spoken during the Queen’s Christmas broadcast in 1957, the first ever televised. Her grandfather, George V, gave his first radio show 25 years ago.
“I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct,” she said of the milestone event.
She will reflect on how, in 2017, “six decades on, the presenter of that broadcast has ‘developed’ somewhat”, as the technology she describes but the original television address That top seems suitable long term.
“It is not new inventions that are difficult,” she said. “The trouble is caused by thoughtless people, who carelessly throw away useless ideals as if they were old machines.
“They will put religion aside, morality in private and public life becomes meaningless, honesty is seen as foolish and self-interest is established in place of self-restraint.
“At this critical juncture in our history, we would certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we merely forsake the fundamental principles that have guided men and women alike. women who built the greatness of this country and the Commonwealth.”
In a 1962 broadcast, she spoke of the first communications satellite that relayed live television images across the Atlantic Ocean – emphasizing the need for good in the world regardless of public means. which technology.
“The wise men of old followed a star: modern man made a star,” she said, referring to the birth and launch of the Telstar 1 satellite.
“But unless this new star’s message is the same as theirs, our wisdom will be in vain. Now we can all say the world is my neighbor and only in service. each other, we can reach for the stars.”
The technology itself continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The Queen sent her first email on March 26, 1976 using a military machine connected to something called the ARPANET – a computer network that would eventually lead to the internet as we know it – under username HME2.
During the 1983 Christmas broadcast – the year Apple released the first commercial personal computer with a graphical user interface – she noted that it took her grandfather, George V, three months to make the trip. round-trip to Delhi, a journey she recently completed in a matter of hours, and marveled at the “communication revolution”.
“However, despite these advances, the age-old problems of human-to-human communication remain,” she said. “We have the means of sending and receiving messages, we can go to meetings in remote parts of the world, we can exchange experts; but we still have trouble finding them. right message to send, we can still ignore the messages we don’t like to hear and we can still talk in quizzes and listen without trying to understand.
“Perhaps even more serious is the danger that mastering this technology could blind us to more basic human needs. Electronics can’t create comradeship; computers can’t create affection.” compassion; satellites cannot convey tolerance.”
The World Wide Web would launch a decade later and the Queen’s first Christmas broadcast to be published on the internet was made in 1997. At the height of the new millennium in her 1999 message, The Queen said: “As I look into the future, I have no doubt that the most certain thing is change – and the pace of that change seems to be accelerating.”
On that day, only a quarter of the country’s households had Internet access. By 2012 when the Queen’s Christmas message was first broadcast in 3D, only a quarter had not.
In 2014, while visiting the Science Museum, Queen Elizabeth II posted her first post on Twitter, and when she visited again in 2019, she posted her first on Instagram – including a letter written by the pioneer. computer essay Charles Babbage sent to her great-grandfather Prince Albert. in July 1842 – describes her joy in learning about children’s computer coding initiatives.
Dates change, means change, but throughout her reign, the message that welcomes the innovations of the future while appreciating the wisdom of the past has not. As she said in 1999: “I don’t think we should worry too much. We can understand the future – if we learn the lessons of the past.
“The future is not only about new gadgets, modern technology or the latest fashion, it is important that these things can be. The center of our lives – today and tomorrow – must be information caring for others, the central message of Christianity and of all major religions.
“This message – love your neighbor as yourself – may have been for Christians who are 2,000 years old. But it is still relevant today. I believe it gives us direction. guidance and reassurance needed as we cross the threshold of the twenties – first century.
“And I am for someone who is looking forward to this new millennium.”