Over the centuries, the British have gained a reputation for a certain steadiness of character, best epitomized via the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster commissioned by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II.
But never let it be said that having such an unflappable demeanor must be construed with being bland or predictable – especially when it comes to the 92-year-old monarch who has ruled the United Kingdom since 1952.
Queen Elizabeth’s Second Career as Instagram Influencer
Queen Elizabeth is the longest-serving monarch in the U.K.’s history, having reigned for 67 years as of last month. As regular watchers of Amazon’s The Queen will note, she’s led a very full life.
And as of this week, the Queen is now on Instagram.
Her first post shared her visit to the Science Museum in London, along with a picture of an old letter from her great-great-grandfather Prince Albert to computer pioneer Charles Babbage.
“Today, I had the pleasure of learning about children’s computer coding initiatives, and it seems fitting to me that I publish this Instagram post, at the Science Museum, which has long championed technology, innovation and inspired the next generation of inventors,” Elizabeth wrote.
She signed the post “Elizabeth R.”
There were some technical issues with the first missive from Her Royal Highness. She neglected to hashtag the post, which is most cases would limit its visibility on the platform. However, one of the great benefits of being the Queen of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is that while other Instagrammers have to scrap for followers, she literally has loyal subjects who will quickly find the posts.
It is also somewhat unusual to sign an Instagram post, although most would agree that in the Queen’s case, it is quite charming. It is made doubly charming when one considers that the “R” in the signature is short for Regina. Regina is not a name, but is Latin for queen, so she is including her title in her Instagram signature – perhaps just in case someone else named Elizabeth happens to start using the Queen’s Instagram account.
And no worries about this delightful new presence on social media being abused by trolls from around the world – the royal family has already announced that offensive comments will be blocked and potentially reported to the police. They firmly suggest “courtesy, kindness and respect” in interacting with each other and with royalty.
Given Instagram’s expansion into commerce and shoppable posts, the natural curiosity exists: Will there come a day come when one can click on a post and purchase whatever fabulous brooch the Queen is wearing?
Probably not, for three reasons. The first is that they are the Windsors, not the Kardashians, and the royal family does not, on the Queen’s order, directly profit from their status. Second, the brooches are one-of-a-kind heirlooms of the British throne and will never be for sale. And third, even if they were for sale, with the exception of Jeff Bezos, most people couldn’t afford them.
But if Instagram browsers are lucky, perhaps she will take and most more pictures of her wearing that heirloom jewelry. We think the posts could be particularly comforting as her subjects do their Brexit doomsday prepping.
The Brexit Apocalypse and the French Wine Doomsday Preppers
As the U.K. hurtles ever more quickly toward the March 29 deadline with no deal in sight, no plan to back off and no guarantee that the EU will give them an extension to continue hammering out a plan, residents are getting worried that a no-deal Brexit may actually happen.
What will happen after that is rather uncertain.
Britain benefits from more than 750 international treaties via EU membership – and the status of those treaties on March 30, if there is no deal, is largely unknown. Brits have already been warned there may be shortages of nurses, bike parts, insulin, fuel, cheese and toilet paper, among many, many other goods. And those are the tame warnings. The more dramatic headlines include words like “rioting” and “food shortages,” while the more alarmist predictions include thoughts like “we will run out of medicine and may never see a piece of fresh fruit again,” the U.K.’s Jessica Furseth wrote for Vox.
In the face of such dire-sounding news, Peter Stanford has abandoned his career as a life coach and moved to an undisclosed location in the south of England to begin his life as a doomsday “prepper,” as he prepares to ride out the societal chaos Brexit may bring. He is aware it seems like an extreme position, noting that people like him are often dismissed as a “bunch of nutters who all wear tin foil hats” – though he maintains that all preppers just want to ensure they will have food, water and shelter in the event of a breakdown.
Britain imports over half its food, Stanford noted, meaning even something like bad weather in another country could have a big effect, and he’d rather be prepared than scrambling or hungry.
And while the fully packed “bugout bag” and multiple locations (one of which requires a customized canoe to reach) may seem like overkill, there are far less over-the-top responses becoming common in London today. One friend of Furseth, a London dweller, has filled his pantry with rice, beans and canned fruit, as well as a camping stove.
“I’m not eating cold beans while I watch the rioting,” he is reported to have noted.
Furseth, on the other hand, went a different way in her doomsday prepping efforts, purchasing a case of her favorite French wine, a lot of extra coffee and a “bumper” shop for toiletries, especially her favorite skincare cream. It might seem a bit like buying Oreos to prep for a blizzard, but her logic is oddly compelling.
“If Brexit ends up being as bad as the starkest warnings indicate, a cupboard full of beans won’t get us very far, so we might as well stockpile a nice Italian red,” she noted. “If it all goes wrong, a glass of Amarone might be just as important as the beans in order to keep calm and carry on.”
Could it really come to that? It remains to be seen: Brexit still has a little over 20 days to get sorted or shelved, and it’s amazing how much things can shift when hard deadlines loom.
But until someone knows something, we imagine commerce habits in the U.K. will start getting interesting – and as they start stockpiling, we will likely learn what goods British people can’t live without.
But then again, they are the inventors of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” And they have the Queen’s Instagram account, which will make even the most hardened cynic feel a bit better about the world, no matter what happens.