Our Gracious Screen: Why the Monarch is Zooming through old age

·4-min read
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle, during a virtual audience, at Buckingham Palace in London on October 26, 2021. (Photo by Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP) (Photo by VICTORIA JONES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen is fully up to speed with tech. (Getty Images)

For the past couple of months, the Queen has seldom been seen in public. Ordered by doctors to rest, recently widowed, and with the challenge of her Platinum Jubilee year and all its demands looming, it's little wonder that she has remained tucked away at Windsor Castle.

Being 95, however, and subject to failing health has not stopped Her Majesty from taking part in world affairs. Though she is still meeting some in person, like most of us since the pandemic began, the Monarch has taken to Zoom.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: In this photo illustration Queen Elizabeth II speaks to carers via video call to mark Carers Week 2020 on June 11, 2020 in London, England.  Princess Anne, Princess Royal founded Carers Trust, formally known as The Princess Royal Trust, to recognise and support carers across the UK. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabethspeaks to carers via video call to mark Carers Week 2020 on June 11, 2020 in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

She was first shown using it last year, in a July 2020 documentary marking Princess Anne's 70th birthday. Anne was shown waiting for the Queen to join the call from Windsor Castle.

“Can you see everybody? You should have six people on your screen,” said the Princess Royal.

“Yes, well I can see four anyway," The Queen replied. 

 “Actually, you don’t need me - you know what I look like!” laughed Anne.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth is in mourning after the death of her aide

It was a scene being played out all over the country as families taught elderly parents how to make a video call, but The Queen has now adopted the practice regularly, for work and personal calls.

The Queen has held several Zoom calls with Prince Harry and Meghan in California, and according to royal biographer Katie Nicholl, likes to see Archie and has commented on his bright red hair on camera.

Read more: Queen holds virtual audience as she takes on light duties at Windsor Castle

She hasn't seen her great grandson in person since the Sussexes moved away in early 2020, and has never met Lilibet, six months. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Patron of WellChild Prince Harry takes part in an internet video call with winners from Northern Ireland whose flight to attend the awards was cancelled due to high winds during a pre-ceremony category winners reception at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on October 16, 2017 in London, England. The Prince attended the annual WellChild awards Monday for the charity, who help to get seriously ill children and young people out of hospital and home to their families. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Harry and The Queen have reportedly kept in touch via Zoom calls. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Early this year, Harry told James Corden how the late Prince Philip used Zoom. "We’ve Zoomed them a few times, they’ve seen Archie running around," he said. "But my grandfather, instead of pressing ‘leave meeting’, he just goes ‘doof' [Hary mimed slamming the laptop shut]. "I’m like, okay, bye…" Harry laughed.

Lat summer, the Queen led a series of Zoom calls to thank nurses around the world for their work during the pandemic, and earlier this year, she Zoomed with experts and schoolchildren to mark British Science Week, joking that if one goes to outer space, "it's important to come back again."

Read more: From Churchill to May: The 13 prime ministers who've served during the Queen’s reign

She has made various Zoom calls since, one to carers alongside Princess Anne, and more recently, with Dame Cindy Kiro. Governor-General of New Zealand to welcome her to the role.

"Ah, there you are!" the Queen exclaimed as she appeared on screen.

However, some royal commentators have suggested the Queen is keen to get back to in-person meetings, when the pandemic allows. 

She is used to face to face meetings, and has had weekly in-person audiences with every Prime Minister of her reign, including Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee, Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Wearing his sash as Knight of the Garter, Sir WInston Churchill opens the door of Queen Elizabeth's car, as she leaves after dining with him and the Duke of Edinburgh and other distinguished guests. Watching the doorway is her hostess Lady Churchill.
The Queen held weekly meetings with Sir Winston Churchill. (Getty Images)

During the pandemic, she has held her audiences with the PM by telephone, and spoke to chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of the budget.

This week, however, she emerged from exile to hold an audience with organist Thomas Trotter on Wednesday.

She smiled and chatted with the concert musician, winner of last year’s Queen’s Medal for Music, and presented him with his award in the Oak Room – the sitting room where she spends much of her time, and which also doubles as her office.

Queen Elizabeth II presents Thomas Trotter with the Queen's Medal for Music at an audience at Windsor Castle. Picture date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II presents Thomas Trotter with the Queen's Medal for Music at an audience at Windsor Castle. (PA)

She has been resting on doctors’ orders and only carrying out 'light duties' since spending a night in hospital for preliminary tests on October 20, and later spraining her back.

She will head to Sandringham for the Christmas period to spend the holiday with her family, as usual - and as her Platinum Jubilee year dawns, will no doubt be hoping to spend less time on Zoom, and more time in person in the coming months.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth video called with members of the armed forces

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