The Queen Was Starting to Get Fed Up with This Royal Duty in Recent Years

Who wouldn’t be annoyed?

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Andrew Matthews / WPA Pool for Getty Images)

Should you ever be so lucky to meet the Queen on one of Her Majesty’s famous walkabouts, do us a favor and put your phone down.

The Queen’s walkabouts these days number less and less, but in the years when she was still undertaking numerous walkabouts annually, Her Majesty was, according to The Daily Express, “starting to get fed up” with the amount of phones in her face, which she viewed as “a lack of respect.” (A walkabout, for those that may not know, is one of the most traditional of royal duties, “which sees members of the Firm exchange a few words with fans lined up to see them outside of locations they are visiting,” says the Express.)

“I also think she was starting to get fed up with walkabouts,” says Ian Lloyd, author of The Queen: 70 Chapters in the Life of Elizabeth II. “They were set up by her in the 1970s as a way of meeting people, but these days, people only want selfies and photographs of her. They just hold up their cameras or, even more alarming, their iPads, so she is faced with a wall of that when she looks at the crowd. It’s horrible.”

Marie Claire reported this week that Prince William and Kate Middleton are embracing the selfie—generally a no-no as far as royal protocol goes—but Her Majesty is of a different generation and prefers a face-to-face conversation.

Princess Anne once said that, because of their phones, people now only actually believe they have seen something if they can photograph it, so they lose the immediacy, their memory,” Lloyd says. “Also, there is a lack of respect in this. When the walkabout started 40 or 50 years ago, people would have never dreamed of sticking up a camera in the Queen’s face.”

And now it happens all the time to royals. Granted, this certainly isn’t the reason Her Majesty hasn’t been seen on walkabouts much lately—the pandemic and her episodic mobility problems are the reasons behind that—but, seeing as we have seen the Queen out in public a couple of times this month (both at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and at a surprise engagement at Paddington Station alongside son Prince Edward) there might be a chance yet for you to interact with the Queen in person. And if you do, enjoy the moment, and please, put the phone down. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.