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Science And Nature

How Queen Elizabeth embraced new technologies during her reign

Television, space exploration, and also Zoomthe British monarch was an eager advocate for these advancements and much more over her 70-year rule.

Published September 12, 2022

9 min read

In the late 1990s, the planet fell deeply in love with email. The planet was just a little late: Queen Elizabeth II have been sending email for many years. In 1976, just years after email was developed for academics to send messages within universities, the queen sent her first email at a meeting celebrating the arrival of an early on internet network in Englandand beat the majority of the remaining world to the punch by 2 decades.

It had been only fitting: During her nine decades of life, seven which she allocated to the throne, the queen saw enormous technological, social, and scientific change. Because the longest-reigning British monarch, she became the beloved head of state for an empire in flux. And during her long life time, she proved a staunch supporter of science and technology.

A Elizabeths early fascination with technology

Born in 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary had not been originally destined for the throne. That changed in 1936, when her paternal uncle Edward VII abdicated and her father, George VI, took his place as king. Suddenly, the 10-year-old was heiress presumptive.(Why Elizabeth II was modern Britain’s most unlikely queen.)

Elizabeths royal duties didnt deter her from the budding fascination with technology. During World War II, the princess lobbied her father to permit her to serve her country. He finally decided to let her volunteer in the Womens Auxiliary Territorial Service, the womens branch of the British Army, where she became a driver and been trained in auto mechanics. It had been a pioneering move: Not merely was she the initial person in her family ever to serve in the military, however the sight of a female taking apart engines and changing tires signaled a sea change in social and gender roles that could continue through the entire future queens lifetime.

In 1952, Elizabeth ascended to the throne upon her fathers death. Now a wife and mother, Elizabeth thought we would reign under her very own first name. It connected her to Elizabeth I, whose Renaissance-era reign is currently considered a golden age of technology and science.

Her very own reign was modern from the start. The brand new queens birth had roughly coincided with the development of television, and during planning her coronation she broke with tradition and allowed the BBC to broadcast the function over live TV. It had been the initial coronation ever televised, also it literally created must-see TV. A lot more than 20 million people worldwide watched the broadcast, that is credited with catapulting TV in to the mainstream. (See rare photos of Queen Elizabeth II from National Geographic’s archives.)

Reigning on the atomic age

Other new technologies influenced Elizabeths reign. She found power because the atomic age kicked into full swing, influencing geopolitics and stimulating scientific advancement. Nuclear fears pushed the planet into an extremely chilly Cold War, and the U.K. tested its atomic weapons through the 1950s. The U.K. allied itself with america, gaining a reputation as Americas unsinkable aircraft carrier for hosting U.S. nuclear weapons.

Elizabeth helped introduce the country to these nuclear advances. In 1956, she opened the worlds first full-scale nuclear power station, Calder Hall, flipping the switch to applause from onlookers. However the technology was included with risk: Another year, a reactor at a nearby nuclear power plant, Windscale, caught fire. It had been Great Britains worst nuclear disaster.

Meanwhile, concerned about the chance of a nuclear attack, the British government developed an idea for the queen to flee to a floating bunker in the Scottish lochs. (The evacuation plan was recently resuscitated and revised amid fears a potential no-deal Brexit could trigger riots.) If Britain were ever attacked, the queen also planned to provide a doomsday address preparing the country for World War III. Decades following the Cold War began, Elizabeth was credited with playing a robust role in its end when she welcomed Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to Windsor Palace in 1991.

A legacy of support for science

The monarch also brushed shoulders with titans of science and technology. She met Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova, and recorded a goodwill message that has been left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts, whom she met in 1969. She also recognized a huge selection of influential scientists, naming primatologist Jane Goodall a Dame Commander of the British Empire and DNA pioneer James D. Watson a Knight of the British Empire.

During her tenure, however, the British Empire found an end because the U.K.s many colonies won their independence and formed a loose coalition referred to as the Commonwealth of Nations. Although Elizabeth II was criticized for profiting from colonialism and doing inadequate to acknowledge, or make reparations for, its brutal legacy, her royal patronage extended to nonprofits through the entire British Commonwealth, many centered on medical or scientific research. (The way the Commonwealth arose from the crumbling British Empire.)

The queen was thinking about technology too, launching live broadcasts of royal addresses, permitting royal usage of the web, and being among the first visitors to ride through the Channel Tunnel, or the Chunnel, the undersea railway linking Britain to the others of Europe. Elizabeth delivered among her traditional Christmas Day messages in 3D, and also used Instagram to talk about an image of a letter computer pioneer Charles Babbage delivered to her great-great-grandfather in 1843.

In newer years, she embraced an green message, giving her blessing to an initiative that encourages forest conservation all around the Commonwealth and also tackling plastic use on royal estates after dealing with David Attenboroughthe British naturalist whom she knighted twiceon a documentary about her forests. (See Queen Elizabeth’s record-breaking reign in 15 pictures.)

The death of the U.K.s most durable leader may be the end of an Elizabethan epoch in britain, over which she reigned for 70 years and 127 days. However in reality, the queens rule spanned multiple eras, bridging old with new and pushing the monarchywhose continued existence is definitely hotly contested within the U.K.right into a future that could have seemed inconceivable at the start of her reign.

The monarchy she represented could be 1,500 yrs . old, but the latest Elizabethan era will undoubtedly be remembered as you of enormous technological, social, and scientific progress.

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