Why does the Queen signs off her Insta posts with 'Elizabeth R'?

·2-min read
Photo credit: Stuart C. Wilson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stuart C. Wilson - Getty Images

While most of us spend more time than we'd like to admit scrolling through Instagram, one person we don't expect to be doing the same is the Queen. But, after Her Majesty shared a heartfelt message with her 10 million Instagram followers yesterday, it seems she's a little more like the rest of us than we thought.

In her post, the Queen congratulated the athletes who represented Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth countries at the Tokyo Olympics.

Her Majesty wrote: "The commitment, dedication and adaptability shown by you, and your support teams, during the exceptional circumstances of the last 18 months has been inspirational. Your performances have lifted the nation and your triumphs been celebrated by us all."

"I send my very best wishes to all those who have contributed to the success of these memorable Games," she added, before personally signing off the message with "ELIZABETH R."

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But, it's not the first time we've seen "ELIZABETH R." Back in 2014 the Queen signed off her first ever tweet in the same way, and again in an Instagram post in 2019.

So, what exactly does the 'R' in her name stand for?

While you'd be forgiven for thinking the 'R' means 'royal', it in fact stands for 'regina' which translates to Queen in Latin. For a king, the 'R' would stand for 'rex'.

The tradition of signing off with the initial can be traced back through the centuries of the British monarchy. As historian Marlene Koenig explained to Harpers Bazaar: "It designates the authority of the sovereign. You will find the use of 'R' as far back as Henry I [who ruled in the early 12th century]. It is how they sign all official documents, as well as formal letters, etc."

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But, Koenig adds, when the Queen is writing to friends or family, she signs off with her childhood nickname, Lilibet. And, if that name sounds familiar, it's because it is. Earlier this year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle honoured the Queen by naming their first daughter (the Queen's great-granddaughter), Lilibet.

In the past, some consorts (wives/husbands of the sovereign) have also signed off using the initial, however, the Queen's late husband chose to simply sign off with 'Philip.'

When Prince Charles, who's currently next in line for the throne becomes King, he too will sign off with an 'R' like his mum. As will Prince William and Prince George when they take the throne.

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