The Queen Tweets
24 October 2014, 19:20
The Queen has sent the first royal tweet under her own name to declare open a new gallery at the Science Museum.
Normally a plaque is unveiled to herald the launch of a new project, but after touring the attraction dedicated to the history of communication and information the Queen touched a tablet screen to send her message to the world.
The £15.6 million gallery features more than 800 objects and explores how breakthroughs have transformed the way people communicate over the past 200 years.
The royal tweet read: "It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R."
The Queen's message was sent via the official @BritishMonarchy Twitter account and is likely to be re-tweeted thousands of times by many of its 722,000 followers.
During her reign the Queen has encountered a rapidly-changing world of technology from the advent of the colour television to the mobile phone and the internet.
Television cameras were allowed inside Westminster Abbey in 1953 to film her Coronation and more than half a million extra television sets were sold in the weeks running up to the historic event.
Five years later she made the first trunk call in the United Kingdom and when email technology was in its infancy, the Queen became the first monarch to send one of the electronic messages, in 1976 during a visit to an Army base.
The concept of video-sharing website YouTube was explained to her by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie before she launched her own channel on the site in 2007 to promote the British monarchy.
Her own website, www.royal.gov.uk, was launched in 1997 during a visit to Kingsbury High School in Brent, north west London.
Other technological milestones for the Queen include personally uploading a video on to YouTube, during a visit to the Google offices in London in 2008.
The Duke of York is the most prolific tweeter in the royal family and has an account under his own names and signs off messages he has written with AY, for Andrew York.
The micro-blogging site has been used by her grandson Prince Harry, who sent his first official tweet in May, but he admitted during the summer he no longer has a personal account, when chatting to a group of students who were promoting his Invictus Games on social media.
The Queen and members of her family are represented on Twitter by the account @BritishMonarchy, while @ClarenceHouse covers the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The Queen sent her tweet at the end of a tour of the new gallery. After taking off her right glove she pressed down hard on the tablet and her message appeared on a large screen behind her as it entered cyber space.
An invited audience, which included supporters of the Science Museum and industry figures like former UK Digital Champion Baroness Martha Lane Fox, clapped after the historic moment.
The gallery's lead curator Tilly Blyth, 43, had taken the Queen on a tour of the attraction which tells the story of communication in the modern age through six areas - the electric telegraph, telephone exchange, radio and television broadcasting, satellite communications, computer networks and mobile communications.
Highlights for visitors include William Thomson's original galvanometer used to receive the first telegraph messages sent across the Atlantic between US president James Buchanan and Queen Victoria in 1858, and the original Marconi radio transmitter that made the first public broadcast in 1922 with the famous words 'This is 2LO calling' - announcing the arrival of the BBC and the birth of British broadcasting.
In a section of the gallery the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh saw part of the her coronation broadcast on a replica of a tiny 1950s' television. When they entered the room the black and white footage was showing the procession through Westminster Abbey.
In the weeks leading up to June 2 1953 half a million extra TVs were sold and the moment was the first time many in the country had watched a television.
The Queen had allowed cameras inside the Abbey to film but told Gill Samuels, interim chairman of the board of trustees, that the Prime Minister at the time was not in favour.
Ms Samuels, who said she could remember watching the crowning, said: "Her Majesty was talking about the brightness of the lights (in the Abbey) and remarked how Winston Churchill had not really been a great fan of having the coronation on the television."
Speaking about the Duke, the chairman said he appeared fascinated by "how much the science and technology had moved on", and had commented on some of the small laptops (saying) "you know there's a lot on the screen but you can't read it any more because the font is so small".
The 88-year-old Queen, who is believed to have first visited the Science Museum aged 11 with her grandmother Queen Mary in 1938, was presented with a posy of paper flowers before she left.
The origami blooms were made from ticker tape and computer punch cards from the museum's collection. Inventor-in-residence Mark Champkins created the flowers and they were handed to the Queen by Catherine Patterson, the young daughter of Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Group.
Mr Champkins, who is based at the museum, said: "It took me five days to make, I found an origami design for a flower and based it on that and also used some copper and wire mesh."
The BT tower displayed the Queen's tweet for all to see, scrolling the message on the information board that runs around the London landmark.
Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Group, which is the lead sponsor of the new gallery, said: "This tweet from Her Majesty the Queen is a key moment in communications history and a great way to commemorate the opening of the Information Age gallery at the Science Museum.
"BT has been at the forefront of communications innovation for nearly 170 years, and to play host to this moment on our iconic BT Tower is very exciting for us."
The telecommunications company has loaned a number of important items to the new attraction including the gallery's centrepiece - the 20ft tall aerial induction coil from Rugby radio station.
It was once part of the most powerful radio transmitter in the world and played a key role in connecting Britain with the rest of the world in the 20th century.