8 ways Queen Elizabeth modernised the British monarchy: from the first televised coronation to funny videos with Prince Harry and Barack Obama, and even posting to the royal family’s social media

How did Queen Elizabeth update the British monarchy during her 70-year reign? Photos: @royalfamily/Instagram
Queen Elizabeth died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle on September 8 this year. The queen was celebrated for her efforts to modernise the British monarchy. She made history when her coronation was televised, and she even wrote her first Instagram post in 2019.

We take a look back at eight ways she transformed British royal life during her reign …

1. She was the first female royal to join the armed services

Queen Elizabeth inspects the Royal Gurkha Rifles in Central, Hong Kong, in 1986. Photo: Howard Walker

The queen was the first and only female member of the royal family to enter the armed forces.

The then-titled Princess Elizabeth had to beg her father, King George VI, to let her help out in the military effort during World War II when she was 18.

Teenage Queen Elizabeth driving an ambulance during her wartime service in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, in 1945. Photo: Getty Images

She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service in England, where she drove military trucks and trained as a mechanic.

The queen was the first female royal to join the armed services as a full-time active member, according to the royal family’s official website.

What would Princess Diana, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson look like now?

2. Her royal coronation was the first to be televised

Queen Elizabeth poses on her coronation day in 1953, in London. Photo: AFP
The queen’s coronation was the first royal coronation to be televised. She was crowned queen on June 2, 1953, after the death of King George VI the year before. The ceremony had some traditional elements; for example, it was held at Westminster Abbey, where royal coronations have taken place for the past 900 years, according to the royal family website.
Queen Elizabeth and members of the royal family at the queen’s coronation ceremony over half a century ago in London. Photo: Getty Images

However, the queen also modernised the coronation by allowing it to be televised for the first time in history, according to the royal website. An estimated 27 million people in the UK watched the ceremony, and for most people, it was the first time they had watched a live event on television, the website added.

3. She invented the royal walkabout

Queen Elizabeth greets well-wishers during a royal walkabout on her 90th birthday in 2016. Photo: AFP

The royal family often meet and shake hands with members of the public before official events, which has come to be known as a “royal walkabout”, forever changing the way the royals interact with the public.

Queen Elizabeth shaking hands with members of the Australian public in Launceston, in 2000. Photo: AFP

However, the practice of royals meeting the public did not start until the queen’s tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1970. The monarch decided to greet the crowd on foot, rather than by driving to her next destination.

6 British royals who survived attempted assassinations

4. She allowed cameras to follow her family’s lives

The British royals are a sartorially inclined bunch – Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Prince Harry are pictured here. Photo: Getty Images

The queen allowed cameras to follow her family’s lives for a documentary that was later banned. She also gave the world a glimpse into her life with the BBC One Royal Family documentary that aired in the UK in 1969.

Along with Prince Philip and their children, the queen allowed cameras to follow their daily lives over 18 months in 1968 and 1969, with the intention of appearing more relatable to a modern audience.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth pose for a picture with their children. Photo: @royalfamily/Instagram

The documentary was shown on TV for the final time in 1972 after which it was banned by the queen, The Independent reported, as it was said to have negatively affected public perception of the royals.

“Some people say that this would open the floodgates, and therefore after that, all the sort of tabloid interest in them [would come after],” royal biographer Hugo Vickers said of the documentary in the ABC special The Story of The Royals, Harper’s Bazaar reported.

Why is the world fighting over diamonds in Queen Elizabeth’s collection?

5. She had a sense of humour on TV

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry in a video promoting the Invictus Games in 2016. Photo: YouTube

But the queen wasn’t afraid to get in front of the camera again later in life. During her reign, she appeared on TV a small handful of times and many of these were for humorous segments.

Daniel Craig escorting Queen Elizabeth through the corridors of Buckingham Palace during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: AFP
For example, she appeared alongside Daniel Craig in a video for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, and in 2016 she appeared with Prince Harry, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in a comedic video advertising the Invictus Games.

6. She created the royal family website

Prince Charles pictured greeting the British public on the royal family website. Photo: Royal family website

The queen also modernised the monarchy with the creation of the royal family website. Originally named the British Monarchy website, it was originally created in 1997 and revamped in 2001.

A section of the Royal Family website dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Royal Family website

An updated version of the website was unveiled by the queen in 2009, which included Google Maps integration, the royal diary of engagement, as well as integration with the royal family’s YouTube channel, according to a press release from February 2009.

Today, the royal family’s website is used for sharing press releases, announcements and biographies of various members of the royal family.

Why are Meghan Markle and Camilla Parker Bowles getting trolled – again?

7. She knows her social media channels

The British royal family even has an official Twitter account. Photo: @royalfamily/Twitter

The queen used Twitter to communicate with the British public. The royal family’s official Twitter account was created in 2009 with the handle @BritishMonarchy before being changed to @RoyalFamily.

Over the years, it has been a major platform used by the queen to share important news with the British public. Twitter was also where the family first shared the news of the queen’s death on September 8.

The monarch also joined Instagram, writing her first post in 2019. The royal family joined Instagram in 2013, but the queen did not post until 2019.

On the official royal family account, she posted two photos of a letter written to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from Charles Babbage, the world’s first computer engineer, displayed at London’s Science Museum.

The queen wrote in the caption it was “fitting” that these letters feature in her first Instagram post as a celebration of how far technology has come in recent years, and she signed the post “Elizabeth R”, her official signature as monarch.

Meet Queen Elizabeth’s ‘favourite’ daughter-in-law, Sophie

8. She had the first-ever royal engagement over video call

Queen Elizabeth appears on-screen during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador of Andorra at Buckingham Palace, London, on March 1. Photo: Reuters

The queen made history with her first-ever royal engagement over video call in June 2020 from Windsor Castle, during the Covid-19 pandemic when the public had to social distance.

Zoom with the queen? Queen Elizabeth made history with her first-ever royal engagement over video call during the pandemic. Photo: @royalfamily/Instagram

The queen and the royal family continued to carry out virtual engagements as well as in-person engagements in 2021 and 2022.

This article originally appeared on Insider
Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Queen Elizabeth died at age 96 in September, but the longest-serving monarch in British history transformed royal life during her 70-year reign
  • She allowed her family – Prince Philip and her children, including Prince Charles – to be filmed for a BBC documentary, had virtual royal engagements and even invented the royal walkabout