Queen Elizabeth II recently made headlines, and much to everyone’s surprise, the story had nothing to do with any alleged “disputes” between Her Majesty and Duchess Kate Middleton, the Queen’s recently acquired granddaughter-in-law. So what exactly did the Queen do to get the internet all hot and bothered?
She sent out her very first tweet, which hit Twitter airwaves at approximately 11:35 a.m. on Friday, October 24. The message read: “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.”
While Britain’s ruling family already has an official Twitter account (@BritishMonarchy), which has acquired a following of about 724,000 fellow Tweeters, this particular tweet was reportedly the first one which Queen Elizabeth actually wrote.
Interestingly enough, the Queen’s first tweet was actually rather meaningful: she had gone to London’s Science Museum to celebrate the official opening of the Information Age exhibit, which profiles over 200 years of technological developments.
For those who are well aware of the Queen’s involvement in technological research and invention, it’s almost surprising that it took so long to get the Queen to send out a tweet herself. There was even some speculation that she wasn’t actually tweeting, but that someone behind the scenes had composed and sent the message while the Queen merely held an iPad in front of the cameras, pretending to type.
What is perhaps more interesting than the Queen’s actual tweet is the fact that Twitter users seemed incredibly upset by the idea that she would pretend to send out a tweet. Critics noted that the message appeared to have been posted using an iPhone, but that the Queen had been using an iPad — clearly, they stated, the tweet was not genuine. In fact, the British monarchy’s social media team felt compelled to send out a follow-up Yes that was written by the Queen confirmation tweet.
The whole incident is exposing a less-than-ideal consequence of instant social media sharing: users expect to see direct and personal messages from others, whether a friend is writing a tweet or whether the Queen of England is (allegedly) writing one. A new level of honesty is exposed on social media platforms, and users become bitter if they think that someone is trying to cut corners.
“I’m sure the Queen is looking at Tweeting as just another way to spread her message,” says Don Keller of Catalpha. “Will she be a constant user of Twitter? I doubt it, but it’s obviously become a form of communication that can’t be ignored.”
Whether or not the Queen was, indeed, the one to tweet her message, the incident certainly made one thing very clear: if an 88-year-old British queen can understand the concept of a tweet, then it’s possible for anyone to figure out.