Discovering the Queen’s digital realm

A year after its launch, the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule contains thousands of entries, including well-known historical events, cultural icons, everyday moments and some touching – and surprising – memories from the last 60 years.

It’s safe to say Her Majesty the Queen has very little in common with Justin Bieber. However, the British monarch and head of the Commonwealth does share two notable similarities with the Canadian pop star: millions of Twitter followers and numerous entries in the Jubilee Time Capsule.

As the date to seal the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule (JTC) approaches, it’s important to consider the development of this ambitious project and its legacy as an innovative educational resource with reach beyond the culmination of the UK’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on 6 June 2012.

Since its launch on Commonwealth Day last year, thousands of people from 49 different countries have shared more than 28,000 memories with the JTC – posting photos, videos, poems and songs from the last 60 years, including those of the aforementioned teen idol – to create a truly remarkable digital Diamond Jubilee gift for the Queen. A selection of 60 of the very best entries will be collated into the Diamond (re)Collection and presented to Her Majesty later this year.

More than just an interesting way to celebrate one historic moment in time, the JTC has become a unique educational tool that introduces young people to the modern Commonwealth, promoting cultural understanding and the sharing of common experiences. The project’s technology credentials also set it apart from many of the other, more traditional, Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with free JTC iPad and iPhone apps to view and upload entries.

In this year’s annual Commonwealth Day message, the Queen said, “However different outward appearances may be, we share a great deal in common. Our circumstances and surroundings may vary enormously – for example, in the food we eat and the clothes we wear – but we share one humanity, and this draws us all together.” The experience of the JTC certainly echoes these sentiments, presenting a moving, and very human, account of the Commonwealth’s last 60 years.

Ashley Johnson, External Affairs Officer, Royal Commonwealth Society

For more information on the Jubilee Time Capsule visit:

2 January 2006: Meeting Nelson Mandela
Eve Percival, United Kingdom

It was an amazing experience meeting Nelson Mandela in January 2006. I will never ever, in my whole life, forget about that moment when I first met him. My family and I were on holiday in Mozambique at the time. Nelson Mandela landed in his helicopter on the beach with his wife and granddaughter to stay for a holiday. I was seven at the time and had no idea who he was until my mum told me about his life and his struggles for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Then eventually how Mandela was put in prison for 27 years before he was finally released. It was my birthday, and to my great amazement he bought me a present and had two cakes made for me and sang happy birthday. I will treasure that day for the rest of my life. Now I am older and know more about Nelson Mandela and what a wonderful person he is, I can appreciate how truly lucky I was to meet him.

11 February 1963: The Beatles’ first album was recorded
Pascale Smart, Australia

When Please Please Me, the Beatles’ first album, was recorded, this was a moment in time that changed not only the world of music, but also created a worldwide phenomenon called Beatlemania. The music was unique as it had an easy chorus to sing along to, and several verses. Most music didn’t have that at the time. They also wrote all of their music, which artists rarely did.

The mammoth 585-minute recording session was held at EMI Studios in Abbey Road, a place that would become famous after this event. It cost £400 for them to record there, which came from George Martin’s yearly £25,000 earnings. The album was at the top of the UK charts for 36 weeks, only to be replaced by the Beatles’ second album, With the Beatles.

The cultural event had a great impact on the world, one that lasts very strongly today.

3 April 1984: The First Indian in Space!
Shruti Gupta, India

Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to go up in space, he made India proud and we are lucky to have him. Sharma joined the Indian Air Force and progressed rapidly through the ranks.He embarked on a historic mission in 1984, as part of a joint space program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos. Launched alongside two Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on 3 April 1984, the 35-year-old Sharma spent eight days in space aboard the Salyut 7 space station.

During the flight, Sharma conducted multispectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas. He was asked by the then prime minister, Indira Ghandi, how India looked from space, to which he replied, “Main binaa jhijhak ke keh sakta hoon…Sare Jahan Se Achcha” (a reference to an iconic poem used in India’s freedom struggle, usually referred to as “Our land of Hindustan is the best in the world”).

26 February 2012: 100 today!
Imogen Jones, United Kingdom

My great-great granddad, Rudolph Pescod, turned 100 today. He received a letter from the Queen – he is one of the few that lived in the presence of King George V, before his daughter Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. He fought in the Second World War as a soldier for his country. But before that he was trained in motorbike skills and learnt things like controlling the bike while four others were on top of him. The team he was a member of was called the ‘White Hats’. Rudolph would have been 19 at this time, the same age Elizabeth was when she was crowned Queen.

12 October 2011: “When I say Justin, you say Bieber!”
Sol Buscaglia, Uruguay

I’ve been a Belieber, which is what Justin fans are called, since 2009, so when he announced that he was coming to Argentina on 12 and 13 of October, I was really happy because I was going to be able to see him!

Justin is a Canadian pop singer who was born in a small town in Ontario, and came from a poor family. He was discovered in 2008, and from that moment he has been known worldwide and admired by millions of fans.

My sister, my cousin and I waited 70 days until the tickets went on sale, and we got tickets at the pre-sale, so we could get good seats – row 49! As we live in Uruguay, we had to go to Buenos Aires by ship, and there we met with other girls who were going to the concert too. We travelled the day before the show and stayed at my grandma’s house. I couldn’t sleep well because of the excitement!

We arrived at River Stadium at 6pm. A 15-minute countdown appeared on four big screens. When only 10 seconds were left, the entire stadium started to count down, and when it reached 00:00:00 minutes, Justin came out singing!

Those two hours singing with him until we were hoarse were the most amazing time of my life.

7 May 2006: The day the Sultan came to my hometown
Cerys Mason, United Kingdom

When I was a mere five years old,

The story of ‘Sultan’s Elephant’ was retold.

T’was in London, 7th of May,

Oh what a wonderful day,

And luckily, it wasn’t even cold.

The elephant appeared with an entrance grand,

With 22 operators it was manned.

Half building, half being,

With the Sultan overseeing,

And with utter excitement I waved my hand.

Intricately carved, the elephant sprayed,

Real gallons of water its trunk had made!

A mechanical might,

I could have watched it ‘til night,

Sights and sounds of the East while it played.

A giant girl followed after that display,

A little later on that same day!

Parading around as well,

Telling the story they came to tell,

On that unusual and joyful day in May.

Buckingham Palace came after that event,

And it was with great pride that we family went.

The magic of it all,

Made me feel so small,

Yet the day had been time very well spent.


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