❚ NOT BAD — THE ROYAL FAMILY HAS MADE 209,000 friends in its first three days on Facebook. Rebranding what she has along called “The Firm” as The British Monarchy (TBM), Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II this week opened for business on the web’s biggest social network where democracy in action means that, although we cannot strictly become Her Majesty’s “Friend” as with every other Facebook member, we can express her popularity by clicking on the notorious “Like” button. Nor can we “poke” the Queen or Prince Philip in the jargon of getting acquainted online, but we can certainly scrawl on their wall, though the First Footman of the Interweb reserves the right to remove offensive comments. Indeed, he was kept on his toes on Monday heading off a stream of republican abuse that included the phrase “scrounging layabouts”.
Innovations include an exclusive “Near Me” application which will enable British citizens as well as Al-Qaeda to track the Queen’s every move on a searchable map of the United Kingdom. The Court Circular, the topical record of official royal engagements produced by the royal household, is also available on Facebook. For the past 200 years The Times and two other newspapers have enjoyed this privilege.
The TBM Facebook group is however reluctant to share the monarch’s intimate tastes such as those reported in yesterday’s Times and elsewhere: that the Queen’s favourite tipples are gin and Dubonnet; that her TV viewing includes The Bill (a police soap), and Kirsty’s Home Videos (compilations of the British public at play) which she asks her servants to tape when she’s busy, as well as re-runs of horse-racing; and that her cornflakes reside in a Tupperware container on the breakfast table.
An aide said: “Facebook is probably the last bastion of social media the royal household had not yet entered, and the Queen is keen to be fully signed up to the 21st century. The important thing about Facebook is its international reach, as the Queen is head of state in 16 countries.” The 84-year-old Queen uses a mobile phone, has her own private email address, surfs the web and ventured into online networking in 2007 by launching TheRoyalChannel on One’s Tube, sorry, YouTube, followed by @BritishMonarchy on Twitter last year and Flickr this summer.
Royal.gov.uk remains the official website of The British Monarchy which represents all 17 “working members” of the Royal Family. It confirms their official surname as Mountbatten-Windsor, and reminds us that the traditional greeting from men is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Otherwise, a handshake is fine.