Queen Elizabeth Joined Her First-Ever Zoom Call – And Royal Fans Can’t Get Enough Of It

The Queen is used to going out and talking to people. Ever since she first became monarch all the way back in 1952, she’s been making public appearances on the regular. And even though she’s now in her 90s she still continues to go out and interact with people. It’s simply part of her royal duties. But when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, she had to work around it.

The Queen has been no exception to the rules about social distancing. On March 19 she and her husband Prince Philip went to Windsor Castle to self-isolate. Seeing as how it was obviously a time of great unease for everybody, the monarch released a statement to the people of Britain.

The statement read, “As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty. We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them.”

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The monarch continued, “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.” She then praised the “expertise and commitment” of medical workers and scientists.

Then, speaking for herself and the other royals, the Queen said, “Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

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However, the pandemic shortly afterwards hit very close to home. Prince Charles, the Queen’s son, tested positive for coronavirus. Luckily, he appeared to only be suffering with mild symptoms. Royal spokespeople released a statement saying that the 71-year-old heir to the throne “otherwise remains in good health” and updated people on the Queen.

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The Queen was in a high-risk group due to her age. Buckingham Palace told the world, “Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly after the investiture on the morning of March 12 and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”

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On March 25 former royal doctor Anna Hemming told the magazine Vanity Fair,“Charles has done the right thing by getting tested and now self-isolating. He has been sensible and responsible and we wish him a speedy recovery.” And luckily Prince Charles soon got better and the Queen was not affected.

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On April 5 the Queen delivered a speech to the nation about the coronavirus situation. It was a very rare thing for the Queen to make a televised speech beyond her annual one at Christmas. She had done this only four times previously. That is, at the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991, after Princess Diana died in 1997, after her mother’s death in 2002, and for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

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Queen Elizabeth announced, “I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country. A disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” She once more thanked medical staff and essential workers.

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The monarch went on, “I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones. Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.”

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Then, the Queen mentioned her experiences during World War II. She spoke of “the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister.” The monarch said, “We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.”

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The speech met with praise. Reporter Rebecca English tweeted out, “I defy anyone not to have a lump in their throat as the Queen, echoing Dame Vera Lynn, says, ‘We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’”

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Those further afield also celebrated the speech. Journalist Tom McTague wrote in American publication The Atlantic, “Britain just got pulled back from the edge.” He also went on, “This was a weekend that felt defining, not just for the immediate story, the coronavirus, but for British politics – and for Britain itself.”

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As time went on news began coming out of the Palace about how the Queen was handling self-isolation. Staff at Windsor Castle had naturally been reduced, so the royals were left to do things on their own. According to an insider who spoke to The Sun newspaper at the end of May, the Queen had even been doing her own hair.

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The source said, “The Queen has done her own hair for years at Balmoral during her summer holidays and so she’s used to it. She washes, dries and sets it herself – and she’s very good at it! She has had lots of practice and so she knows exactly what to do. She has been carrying on at Windsor because no outsiders are allowed into the castle to protect her and Prince Philip, who’s 99 next month.”

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When Prince Philip did turn 99, the birthday celebrations were of course rather quiet. Newspaper The Guardian reported, “The royal family have all been staying apart in lockdown during the pandemic, and communicated via Zoom video calls, FaceTime and by phone, as they are expected to do for Philip’s birthday.”

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Prince Charles had spoken the week previous about not being able to see his father on his birthday. He told Sky News, “Well, I haven’t seen my father for a long time. He’s going to be 99 next week, so yes… or my grandchildren or anything. I’ve been doing the FaceTime, it’s all very well, but …”

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The heir to the throne, no doubt speaking for lots of people in lockdown, said not being able to be with family members was “terribly sad.” He went on, “Fortunately at least you can speak to them on telephones and occasionally do this sort of thing. But it isn’t the same, is it? You really want to give people a hug.”

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Yet there was no other option but to use technology to stay in touch. This was new ground, it seemed, for the Queen. On April 14 Prince William had done an interview with the BBC and said, “As you can imagine the younger generation are a little more tech-savvy. The family are getting a little bit more used to being able to contact each other and press the right buttons and not dropping the computer halfway through.”

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But the Queen must have soon gotten the hang of it – because on June 4 she took part in her first ever public Zoom call. Indeed, for obvious reasons, it was the first ever public Zoom call for a member of the British monarchy. When the Queen first took the throne in 1952, personal computers and the internet were still a way off.

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The Queen appeared on the Zoom call in order to support Carers Week. Her daughter Princess Anne also dialed in. The two of them spoke to a group of carers about their work and how they were doing in such challenging times. The Queen’s username, viewers of the video noted, was simply “Windsor UK.”

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Though it’s not unheard of for people to dial into Zoom calls wearing unprofessional clothes – or sometimes no clothes at all on the places the camera can’t see – the Queen obviously wasn’t having that. She logged in wearing a floral dress, an outfit typical for her. She paired this with a pearl necklace.

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The Queen told the carers on the video that they were all doing “extraordinary” work, and said, “I’m very impressed by what you have achieved already. I’m very glad to have been able to join you today.” She was the last to leave the video call – a bit of royal etiquette that translated well to Zoom.

One of the people on the call was unpaid carer Nadia Taylor, the chair of the Carers Network. She told the BBC, “The call was about 45 minutes and the Queen was on for about 20 minutes of that. She asked us all questions. We talked about how we are all coping in the current climate with COVID-19.”

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Taylor went on, “I explained to her how much more isolated carers are at the moment. Many don’t have laptops or tablets and feel very cut off. A lot of the appointments – doctors, hospitals, et cetera – we need have been cancelled. The Queen asked questions about how we all coped and called us extraordinary, which was very lovely.”

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One of the other carers was Alexandra Atkins. Speaking to the MailOnline website, she said, “What was really nice was that, while you could tell [the Queen] had never done that kind of call for work before, she really took it in her stride. She was listening to what we were saying… To have them both talking face to face to us was just unreal. It hit me that I was sitting in my bedroom talking to the Princess Royal and the Queen.”

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Once footage of the Zoom call was put up on the royal family Instagram, reaction seemed very positive. One person wrote, “The Queen on video conference is the coolest thing ever.” Another said, “Her Majesty is always leading the charge, especially with modernizing the Royal Family in unexpected ways such as this.”

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Indeed, the Queen has actually been promoting communication technology for a while now, long before the pandemic. Back when she was a teenager, she and her sister Margaret recorded radio messages to keep children’s spirits up during World War II. This was what she referenced in her coronavirus speech.

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And Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation was the first ever one to be shown on TV. This marked a huge cultural shift, and the coming-of-age of television in Britain. At least 27 million people in the country viewed the event live, and many of them had apparently purchased television sets for the occasion.

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Queen Elizabeth was supposedly introduced to the internet as early as 1976. That year the ARPANET – a network which would go on to evolve into the modern-day internet – was brought to a research center in Malvern, England. The Queen was there for the occasion, and she even sent an email on the system.

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The Queen has even embraced 3D technology. Come December 2012 she recorded her Christmas message in front of 3D cameras. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told the BBC, “We wanted to do something a bit different and special in this Jubilee year, so doing it for the first time in 3D seemed a good thing, technology wise, to do. The Queen absolutely agreed straight away.”

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And a couple of years later, in 2014, the Queen sent her first tweet. She was opening a new gallery at a museum and from there she posted the message, “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the Science Museum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.”

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So, despite her advancing age and the qualms Prince William has, the Queen seems to know her way around modern technology. On July 1 Vanity Fair magazine reported that the monarch had been keeping in touch with other world leaders from her lockdown in Windsor. This included people like Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern.

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Indeed, the Queen seems to have plenty to occupy her, and not just matters of state either. In May some inside sources spoke to OK! magazine about what the monarch was likely to be up to when she couldn’t venture into the outside world. Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward said that the Queen would be “keep[ing] her brain active.”

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Seward told the magazine, “She’s very, very quick at crosswords and enjoys word games, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she plays Scrabble. She likes jigsaws, too, but those are kept at Balmoral and Sandringham as they’re holiday pastimes. She’s also very orderly and likes cataloguing personal things, so she’s probably catching up with her photograph album.”

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The Queen is known for keeping animals, and Seward said she would have “missed getting out on her horse.” She added, “I don’t think it’ll look good if she’s seen visiting the Royal Mews at Windsor, but she can quite safely and discreetly go out riding with her Stud Groom, Terry Pendry, if he brings the horses up to the castle quadrangle.”

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There have apparently been some silver linings to the Queen spending time in lockdown, though. Especially considering that she’s not alone. In May an unnamed source told Vanity Fair magazine, “One of the nicest things for the Queen is that she is getting to spend more time with her husband than she usually would.”

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The source went on, “They have dinner together in the evenings and I imagine the Queen is of the generation where she dresses for dinner.” Ordinarily, the Queen would be busy with official summer engagements, such as Royal Ascot and Trooping the Color. These would obviously hinder her ability to spend a lot of time with the now-retired Prince Philip.

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So, the lockdown seems to have been a mixed bag for the Queen. But apparently, though her Zoom call was a success, it’s not what the monarch wants for the future. Another source told Vanity Fair, “The idea that she’ll reign from a screen is not Her Majesty’s view… There’s a keenness to get back to doing the sort of work she has always done. She very much believes in being seen.”

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