It’s never too late to learn something new, as 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, a newly minted Instagrammer, demonstrated once again on Wednesday when she dropped by a Sainsbury’s pop-up shop in the original central London site of the supermarket chain’s first shop to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Back in the 1800s, only three products were available for purchase: milk, butter, and eggs. Of course, that’s no longer the case; according to the Daily Mail, the Queen was “struck by changing tastes when she was shown the contents of a modern day shopping basket.”
As it turned out, that was just the first of several shocks in store; the Queen was astonished to discover the manner in which each of those products could be purchased—that is, without the help of cashiers. The concept of self-checkout stations was so foreign to her, in fact, that she couldn’t help but wonder if they weren’t just de facto stations for shoplifting. “And you can’t trick it? You can’t cheat it then?” she asked the regional manager who showed her how to use one properly, explaining that shoppers enjoy the system because it speeds along the checkout process. The Queen, apparently, can relate: “I’m sure they do. Everybody wants to hurry,” she responded.
The concept of shoppers being able to pay for their groceries through an app seems to have left the Queen equally impressed: “That’s an interesting tool,” she added.
This was not, in fact, the Queen’s first encounter with the self-checkout process; photos of her 2016 trip to another grocery store, a Waitrose supermarket in Poundbury, prove as much. To be fair, there was no shortage of distractions that day—particularly for someone who doesn’t spend much time food shopping. The Queen also made use of her time there by, for example, roaming the “specialty” aisle.
Even at that point, though, the Queen had become something of a grocery store veteran; she also dropped by a Waitrose in Windsor in 2008. In fact, she’s even taken her grocery store tour international, making time to prowl the frozen meat section of a Giant in Queenstown, Maryland, with Prince Philip on their royal visit to the United States in 1957—a time when shoplifting really was the only form of self-checkout.