Queen Elizabeth II’s death after 70 years on the throne was announced first on Twitter — from the Royal Family’s own account.
A tweet stating the long-serving monarch had “died peacefully at Balmoral” was posted by @RoyalFamily at 6.30pm local time, two minutes ahead of the BBC’s own announcement on the platform.
That Twitter was chosen as the initial vector for the news shows how much the family’s approach to communication has morphed, especially in the latter years of the Queen’s reign.
Known for their use of pomp and ceremony to reinforce the power of the monarchy, the Windsors have become savvy users of social media, with King Charles III and his wife Camilla, who is expected to take on the title of Queen Consort, regulars on Twitter and Facebook.
The tweet came alongside a raft of more traditional protocols surrounding the monarch’s death, plans for which have been a closely guarded secret for decades.
A Guardian report in 2017 said news of the Queen’s death would first be relayed to the UK prime minister via the coded message “London Bridge is down”, before an announcement made via a “newsflash to the Press Association and the rest of the world’s media simultaneously”.
Retweeted more than 650 000 times and garnering more than two million “likes”, the post was just the first step in a carefully choreographed 10-day mourning period that will include the suspension of parliament, a public holiday and a state funeral at Westminster Abbey. — Alex Millson, (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP