Queen Elizabeth might love her traditions, but she’s also quite the tech trendsetter!
Forty-four years ago today, the Queen sent the first-ever royal email.
On March 26, 1976, the Queen visited the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, a telecommunications research centre in Malvern, England, and using ARPANET — the computer network that eventually morphed into the current internet — making her the first royal to send an email.
Peter Kirstein, who organized the event, including setting up her personal email account of “HME2,” said at the time: “All she had to do was press a couple of buttons,” he remembers, “and her message was sent.”
A photo of the historic moment shows the Queen tapping the keys on a retro-looking computer.
The email itself was to announce the arrival of a new programming language that had been developed and was headed “A Message from Her Majesty the Queen” and signed off with an informal “Elizabeth R” — the same sign off the Queen has used for all her digital communication ever since.
Since that momentous day, the Queen has continued to embrace modern technology, and in October 2014, she sent her first tweet during a visit to London’s Science Museum. 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.”
Five years later in 2019, the monarch returned to the museum to send her first Instagram post, in which she shared a letter written to her great-great-grandfather Prince Albert in 1843 from Charles Babbage, the world’s first computer engineer. Set up in 2013, @theroyalfamily Instagram page now has 7.6 million followers.
The Royal Family/Twitter
Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
While we know that the Queen has an iPod, as Barack Obama gave her a personalized one (complete with a compilation of Broadway show tunes!), as a gift back in 2009, it’s never been confirmed if she has her own personal email account although Elizabeth Saltzman, a former Vanity Fair editor claimed that the Queen once offered up her email address at the end of a conversation before clarifying that she doesn’t actually write any emails, only dictates them.
Due to the current coronavirus, the Queen may start to hold meetings with key aides via video chats using platforms such as FaceTime or Skype, as the world shifts to working from home. On Wednesday, she held her weekly audience with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson using a trusty beige landline telephone.