The royal family has a very hands-off approach to social media: Though they dole out regular updates on their daily activities via the official Kensington Palace, Clarence House, and Buckingham Palace feeds, the individual members of the family aren’t allowed to manage any social media accounts themselves, a rule that prompted distress and dismay early last year, when Meghan Markle’s Twitter and Instagram accounts quietly disappeared ahead of her wedding. (Other members of the extended royal family, like Princess Eugenie, are allowed to have personal accounts, since being a royal isn’t their full-time job.)
This week, however, we got a glimpse of what it would be like if Queen Elizabeth II did run her own Instagram page, when she shared her first-ever post to the official Royal Family account during a visit to London’s Science Museum. The biggest takeaways from the history-making post: The queen doesn’t appear to be an emoji fan; she has a surprisingly solid grasp of the concept of a #TBT; and, as we’ve come to expect from anyone over the age of 60, she insists on signing her name at the end of every missive.
The photo she shared shows a letter written to Prince Albert, her great-great-grandfather, from Charles Babbage, a 19th-century mathematician widely credited as having invented the first computer. “In the letter, Babbage told Queen Victoria and Prince Albert about his invention the ‘Analytical Engine’ upon which the first computer programmes were created by Ada Lovelace, a daughter of Lord Byron,” Queen Elizabeth wrote. “Today, I had the pleasure of learning about children’s computer coding initiatives and it seems fitting to me that I publish this Instagram post, at the Science Museum which has long championed technology, innovation and inspired the next generation of inventors.”
She signed the letter “Elizabeth R.,” which, despite sounding like the name of a Bachelor contestant, actually stands for Elizabeth Regina, using the Latin word for queen.
In a somewhat paradoxical turn of events, after QE2 had smashed the “Share” button, the Science Museum printed out a screenshot of her inaugural IG post and put that piece of paper on display (yes, really), all but negating not only the queen’s deft use of modern technology, but also the museum’s own dedication to innovation and “incredible scientific achievement.”
Elizabeth may not be the first queen to post on Instagram, but in 1976, she was the first monarch (and one of the very first people at all) to send an email, using very early technology at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment research center. More recently, in 2014, during another visit to the Science Museum, she sent her first ever tweet, writing, “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting,” and, once again, signing off with “Elizabeth R.” It’s only a matter of time before she’s Instagram Live-ing her annual Christmas address.