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How Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee had an impact on the Internet


6 min read
How Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee had an impact on the Internet
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
Queen Elizabeth II birthday speech, April 21, 1947

The rising and setting of the sun has an impact on human behaviour and on Internet trends, and events like this weekend's celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee also show up in Internet trends.

When Elizabeth II's reign started, on February 6, 1952 (the coronation was on June 2, 1953), the Turing machine had already been proposed (1936), and with that the basis for computer science. ARPANET, which became the technical foundation of the Internet, was still a dream that came to fruition in the late 60s — the World Wide Web is from 1989 and in 2014 we celebrated its Silver Jubilee. So, with that in mind, let’s answer the question: did the 2022 celebrations of the first British monarch with a 70th anniversary on the throne have an impact on the UK’s Internet traffic?

First, some details about the Platinum Jubilee. There was a four-day bank holiday (June 2-5) in the UK for the celebration that included parades and pageants, and several ceremonies. There was a Big Jubilee Lunch in many communities on Sunday, June 5, and more than 16,000 street parties (pubs and bars were also allowed to stay open for extra two hours). In events like these, not only there’s a lot to do outside, but also to see on the television and that impacts the Internet — we saw it during the Eurovision 2022 final.

Looking at Cloudflare Radar’s data from the UK, we can see that this past weekend clearly had less Internet traffic compared to recent weekends, so people were less online during the daytime, when the Jubilee was being celebrated. Here’s the chart with the previous four weekends of the UK’s Internet traffic:

That lower traffic trend is most clear on Saturday, June 4, at 20:00 local time, when traffic was 23% lower than on the previous Saturday, and on Sunday, June 5, at 15:00, when traffic was 25% lower than on the previous Sunday. The weather was actually sunnier on the previous weekend, May 28-29, but people did seem to have many reasons (related to the Jubilee) to go outside or at least be less online.

Looking at the full picture of when the four-day bank holiday started, Thursday, June 2, 2022, until Sunday, June 5, there’s a clear trend of less traffic through all of those days, which is not unusual, at least for Thursday and Friday, considering that holidays usually have traffic more similar to weekends than weekdays.

No surprise, when there’s a holiday, or it’s the weekend people tend to use their mobile devices more to access the Internet, and that was clearly what we saw in the UK since Thursday, June 2, mobile traffic (green line) was always prevalent compared to desktop traffic (blue line) since then.

On the weekdays before June 2, we can see that Internet traffic by mobile devices only stands out after 18:00 (before that, with people working, desktop took the lead).

From Canada to New Zealand

There are several other commonwealth countries that also had relevant events to celebrate since June 2 and through the past weekend for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Canada is one with several activities throughout the country, including free admission to museums and historic sites, park parties and concerts.

Related to the Jubilee celebrations or not, Internet traffic in Canada was lower this past weekend than in the previous one. Saturday, June 4, at 22:00 in Toronto traffic was 13% lower than in the previous period, and throughout the day that was also the case. On Sunday, traffic was only lower during daytime, especially around 12:00 in Toronto, when it was 15% lower than in the previous Sunday. That was the time of the Jubilee Pageant, in central London (in the next charts, times are in UTC).​​

Something similar can be seen in terms of lower traffic this weekend in Australia:

And also New Zealand:

Royal family and news websites (Boris Johnson’s no confidence vote included)

Here we’re looking at DNS request trends to get a sense of traffic to Internet properties. First, we can see that websites concerning the UK Royal family and the Jubilee were clearly seeing more traffic after Wednesday, June 1 (the day before the four-day bank holiday). The three biggest spikes were: Wednesday evening, when traffic was 777% higher at 22:00 (compared to the previous week); the next morning (08:00), when it rose 1060%; and on Saturday evening (21:00) it got 1043% more traffic.

UK-based news websites (TV broadcasters and newspapers) also covered Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee extensively over the extended weekend. And there are three big highlights/spikes from the past few days regarding media outlets' websites, but only two seem to be related to the Jubilee or the bank holidays.

We can see that the biggest spike in traffic (75% more than the previous period) was the night before the Jubilee four-day bank holiday started. Then, Sunday afternoon when the London Jubilee Pageant was ending, there was another spike (25% higher).

But the day with more sustained traffic from the last 14 days was actually Monday, June 6. That was the day that Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, won a no confidence vote in the UK’s Parliament. There was a clear first spike at around 08:00, when the news that a vote of no confidence would take place on that day broke, and a much bigger one at 21:00 (68% higher), when the final result of the vote was announced.

Social media trends show a similar pattern to Internet traffic in general, but it’s interesting to see that Thursday, June 2, the first day of the extended weekend, was the one of the full 14 days we’re looking at with less DNS traffic to those platforms.

Messaging, on the other hand, had consistently much lower traffic during the four-day bank holiday, even compared to the previous weekend. Saturday, June 4, was the day with less messaging DNS traffic, at least of the two weeks period we’re observing. At 11:00 Saturday, traffic was 18% lower than in the previous period, the same level of lower DNS requests at 15:00 and through most of the day.

Conclusion: celebrations and events ‘move’ the Internet

When there’s a big country-wide celebration going on, especially one that has a lot of outdoor events and activities, Internet patterns do change. That happens, in this case, for a monarch whose reign began in 1952, when there wasn’t any Internet (it took more than 40 years for the network of networks that can connect us all on Earth to reach its more popular global form).

We have seen something similar, but to a smaller degree, when there are elections going on, like the ones in France, in April, or when deeply impactful events like the war in Ukraine shifted the country’s Internet patterns.

You can keep an eye on these and other trends using Cloudflare Radar.

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João Tomé|@emot

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