On January 22nd 1901, Queen Victoria died. Few people could remember what time it was before she took the throne. She ruled for almost 64 consecutive years. This was the longest reign in British history.
Now more than 120 years later, many people in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland and the British Commonwealth, as well as in much of the world, are mourning the passing of Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II.
Many ways it seemed almost like the countdown was on since early this morning when members of the Royal Family announced they were going to Scotland’s Queen Elizabeth II. According to the BBC, people gathered at Buckingham Palace, London, waiting for updates about the Queen’s health began to cry when they learned of her passing. At 18:30 BST, the Union flag was taken to half-mast on the top of Buckingham Palace.
However, Queen Victoria was clearly not one of them. Even though she died at 6:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time, (GMT), few people were aware of her passing that night. In reality, the majority of Britons would not have heard about the death until they read it in the morning newspapers the following day.
British officials and Royal Family had been anticipating this moment for many years. They hoped that the announcement could quickly be made via radio and TV. What wasn’t likely expected, until recently at least, was how the Internet and social media could also change how word of the queen’s passing could be shared.
However, Royal Family quickly issued a simple but important announcement through social media.
“The Queen peacefully died at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Consort of The Queen will continue at Balmoral today and will return home to London tomorrow,” The Royal Family’s official Twitter account (@RoyalFamily), tweeted at 1:30 ET.
This tweet was liked more than 1.4million times in the first hour and retweeted over 500,000 times.
Notable is the way that people use social media to express their disapproval. This has been true when word of the passing past political leaders has gone viral, but the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death has certainly brought out the absolute worst from many, who took to the social platforms to essentially cheer that she is dead.
The negativity on certain platforms has largely overshadowed the condolences.
This kind of commentary was rare before social media. And even harsh media critics wouldn’t have cheered such news. Thanks to social media’s worldwide reach and ability for anyone to make a comment, it is clear that the gloves are off. We will see if that’s for the good.