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We Are Not Amused

Queen Despairs At Selfie Culture

The Pope says it is ‘futile’ and encourages a network of wires not of people, Obama has this week declared that it magnifies the dangers of a messy world, and now the Queen has thrown her two cents into the mix too. HRH struggles to come to terms with the world of social networking and finds it ‘strange’ to see a sea of mobile phones pointing her way, admitting that she misses eye contact and a good old fashioned handshake.

Celebrity culture is predisposed to being incessantly papped, with images of our favourite stars doing the rounds on social media, for better or, as Jennifer Lawrence and co. sadly discovered this week, for worse. But even more so than Jamie Laing’s cheeky grin, the Queen’s face is circulated around the country; she’s in our pockets and on our letters – although with the advent of instant messaging the need to stamp our correspondences with her perfectly coiffed head is lessening.

The Royal family is keen to modernise and show an understanding of social media, boasting a successful Twitter account by which they engage with the public; Princes Harry and William regularly pose for selfies with keen royalists. However, it does seem that the Queen, at the grand old age of 88, sometimes struggles to embrace social media as warmly as the younger members of her family.

At her countless events, openings and public commitments the Queen is faced with a sea of screens, flash on and recording light blinking; she is seemingly frustrated with the manner in which the public are documenting every second their meeting on their mobile phones. In years gone by, die-hard royalists would line the streets for hours for a mere glimpse of a member of the Royal family, but these days it’s all about capturing some footage for a sneaky Vine or celebratory selfie.

Her Majesty confided in Matthew Barzun, the US ambassador, at a recent meeting that she finds it ‘strange’ to see nothing but the backs of mobile phones whenever she looks up. Mr Barzun told Tatler magazine that ‘she was essentially saying: ‘I miss eye contact’’.

The Queen has a notoriously short temper when it comes to intrusive phone calls. Clare Short, who worked under Tony Blair, once fell victim to the Queen’s anti-mobile wrath when her phone rang during a meeting of the Privy Council; fumbling in her handbag, she struggled to locate the phone as the assembled officials had to endure an embarrassing few moments until she managed to silence the call. The Queen, with her fabled sharp wit, said to Miss Short: ‘Oh dear, I hope it wasn’t anyone important’.

Last year there was dismay at the manner in which BBC staff greeted the monarch with swathes of smartphones and cumbersome tablets on a visit to Broadcasting House. It seems that if you have the Queen round for tea, adherence to good manners is expected – she is certainly not the same breed of ‘celebrity’ as those that grace the pages of the Daily Mail, and she would rather people engage with their guest than stare through a screen at them. It’s not just in public that she is faced with the problem, as guests at the more intimate royal garden parties have been bringing their phones in order to get an off-duty selfie.

Whereas the Princes are more willing to strike a pose, the Queen more unwittingly fell into shot as she ‘photobombed’ a picture at the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games, accidentally strolling into the background of two Australian hockey players’ photo – who were duly thrilled and posted the pic to Twitter.

According to The Telegraph, the Queen has had a mobile phone since 2001 when her husband gave her one as a gift. He showed her how to use it and save the numbers of other Royals', but the speed dial function on the phone has remained largely unused – the Queen has never used the phone in public but is apparently partial to making a quick call in private when at Balmoral or Sandringham.

Katie Rowley 

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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We Are Not Amused Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Rating: 5
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