AMIDST the grief laden history of today’s events, there in the crowd along the streets of London, and later as the Queen’s coffin is taken to Windsor, there will be mobile phones, held aloft, capturing photographs and footage. But at the weekend, royal advice was to put them down.


Royal advice?

As King Charles and the Prince of Wales made a surprise visit to meet mourners queuing to pay respects at the Lying-in-State of Queen Elizabeth, footage online showed personal protection officers advising mourners to put their phones down and “enjoy the moment”.


The mobile is king…

Indeed, we are surely all guilty - if that is the right term - of viewing experiences we are in the middle of through the screen of our smartphones, from concerts to weddings.


What was the reaction?

The advice, when reported online, met with a positive reaction from many, with one royal follower stating: “Rightly so, there is footage available of everything, but it (meeting the King) is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Be present.” Another wrote, “Yes! Be in this historic moment” and another said simply: “We need more of this.” Others agreed, adding that it was “plain tacky and classless” to put a “camera in grieving family members’ faces for an Instagram post”.



One Canadian royal fan posted an image of the Queen taken by her sister during a royal visit to Canada in 1984, saying that it was a “treasured memory”, often fondly looked at through the years.


Phones have been a feature of the past week?

Rather than official media coverage, personal clips and images taken by members of the public gathered across the country to see the King and other royals have often gone viral online, including one film of the new Princess of Wales revealing her youngest child, Louis, said the Queen is “now with great-grandpa”.



The role of the mobile as a potential barrier to enabling in-depth experiences is highlighted at concerts where stars, from Kate Bush to Bob Dylan, have banned phones from gigs. Meanwhile, Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres word tour currently underway, sees frontman Chris Martin stopping during the band’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ song to regularly ask concert-goers to “be in the moment”. At Wembley, he urged fans: “Let’s try that again, but please, if we could just have one song with no cell phones, no cameras, no devices, nothing, just the power of people, people power”.


But they can illuminate a moment?

As well as capturing slices of grief amid the end of the Elizabethan era through members of the public’s eyes, one moment stands out in terms of technology, as the sea of mourners gathered at the gates of Buckingham Palace lit up the evening sky with their phone torches as the hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin returned to her London home for the final time.


So for all their faults…

…one supposes they can also be literal beacons of light.