Ardent monarchists were once content to wait for hours on a pavement for a glimpse of a member of the Royal family.
Nowadays, no royalist will allow an encounter with a Windsor to pass without recording every second of the experience on a mobile phone or trying for the ultimate prize of a "selfie" with royalty.
While the Queen has always been one to embrace modern technology, she has confided that she loathes the sea of mobile telephones that greets her every move in public.
Her Majesty told Matthew Barzun, the US ambassador, that she finds it "strange" to see nothing but the backs of mobile phones whenever she looks up.
"She was essentially saying: 'I miss eye contact,' " Mr Barzun told Tatler magazine. He said the Queen confided in him during a "nice chat" they had when he presented his credentials at Buckingham Palace after his appointment last year.
Courtiers expressed their dismay last year at the way BBC staff greeted the monarch with raised smartphones and tablets wherever she turned during her visit to the revamped Broadcasting House in central London.
The implication was that the Queen regarded it as bad manners to be staring at a screen rather than looking at a guest. Since then the problem has only become worse. Guests at royal garden parties have been bringing their phones in recent years.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have gamely posed with people for "selfies" and even the Prince of Wales has happily allowed well-wishers to get souvenir photos with him.
The Queen, meanwhile, has been known to "photobomb" pictures, strolling into other people's "selfies". She did this most notably when she was seen grinning into the camera behind two Australian hockey players who were taking a picture of themselves at the Commonwealth Games in July.
The Queen has had a mobile phone since 2001, when the Duke of York gave her one as a gift. He showed her how to use it and saved the numbers of other members of the Royal family in its memory. While she has never used the phone in public it is understood that she uses it to make calls when she is outdoors at Balmoral and Sandringham.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have taught her how to send and receive text messages.
However, the Queen does not have much patience for people whose mobiles ring at inappropriate times.
Clare Short, the international development secretary under Tony Blair, once got into a flap when her mobile rang in her handbag during a meeting of the Privy Council.
"Oh dear," the Queen told Miss Short, after she had finally managed to turn it off. "I hope it wasn't anyone important." Mr Barzun, at 43, is one of the youngest ambassadors to the Court of St James's, and prized his meeting with the Queen.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. "Riding to Buckingham Palace in an open carriage – I don't think that will happen again."
Mr Barzun also told Tatler he was fed up with British food. Asked what he would serve at his ideal dinner party, he said: "I'll tell you what I would not serve — lamb and potatoes. I must have had lamb and potatoes 180 times since I have been here. There are limits."
Guests at Winfield House, his official residence in Regent's Park, can instead expect to be served fried catfish, mini-burgers and bourbon.
The Telegraph, London
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