Whether you’re a fan of the Royals – or not so much, it’s impossible to avert your eyes from the red, blue, and white bunting adorning towns, villages, pubs and supermarkets up and down the country, and across the commonwealth, as we get ready for a weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queenie.
Tie up your bunting, make a cup of tea, and cut yourself a slice of Battenberg (or two, there’s absolutely no judgement here). What better time to delve into the British Royal Family? < brushes crumbs from Union Jack waistcoat>
Queens of Tech
In January 1878, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his new invention – the telephone – to Queen Victoria. The advert for the amazing invention promised that “persons using it can converse miles apart… as if they were in the same room”. An excited Queen Victoria wanted to be a part of the action and her residence, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, became the scene of the country’s first publicly witnessed long-distance phone calls; to London and Southampton.
The fascination and appreciation for tech seems to live on in Queen Elizabeth too; making the first live Christmas broadcast in 1957 in which she spoke about “the speed at which things are changing all around us”. Later in 1976, she was the first monarch to send an email during a visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. In 2014, the Queen sent her first tweet, and in 2017 she opened the National Cyber Security Centre in London with the late Duke of Edinburgh.
Wherever you sit on the Royalist fan fence, that’s pretty cool.
Of course, threats have evolved over the years. But as we know, the tech and the knowledge have to evolve with the threats. Otherwise, things can get pretty messy, very quickly.
It was reported that in the space of just a few months between 2005-06, including on Christmas Day, the Duchess of Cambridge had her messages hacked 155 times. Prince William has also been hacked 35 times. And in 2017 people searching online for information about their engagement, were warned of malicious hackers engaging in SEO poisoning; manipulating results to infect computers by delivering viruses, worms, and other malware straight to their networks and devices.
Two hundred of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle's personal photos, including pictures of the Queen at their wedding, were leaked in a security breach that enabled a hacker to access an online cloud storage account belonging to the couple.
Not that that’s not enough hacking against the British Royal Family, it’s important to note that there may have been many other cyberattacks, either unknown or unreported.
Just like the common people, Covid-19 forced the Queen to work-from-home (or er, work-from-palace). In 2020, the Queen carried out almost half of her engagements by telephone or video link… and even the Royal Family couldn’t avoid the huge surge in cyber-attacks that graced our networks and devices during the pandemic.
A 2021 report by Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse (erm, is there a better job?!) indicated that the Royal Family were a high-risk target (rather than a medium target as was previously thought), which prompted The Firm to put out a recruitment ad for a cyber security expert to monitor their networks and their systems from cyberattacks. In March, Elliot Atkins was appointed the Queen’s first chief information security officer (CISO).
For the Queen and co., the risk of reputational damage is far greater than any financial loss. Salacious newspaper headlines, court cases, and public perception can be hugely damaging to families, lives, and any possible job opportunities post-royal title...
With all that's going on in the world, even the Queen’s got 99 problems – let’s just hope cybersecurity isn’t one of them.