Skip to content

By Science Museum on

HM The Queen announces Top Secret exhibition at the Science Museum

Her Majesty The Queen visited the Science Museum to announce our new free summer exhibition, Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security, and open our new supporters centre.

Today, Her Majesty The Queen visited the Science Museum to announce our free major summer exhibition, Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security, and open our new supporters’ centre.

Her Majesty The Queen at the Science Museum on 7 March 2019, with objects from the upcoming Top Secret exhibition including Enigma M1070
Her Majesty The Queen at the Science Museum on 7 March 2019, with objects from the upcoming Top Secret exhibition including Enigma M1070.

Continuing a tradition of posting on social media for the first time from the Science Museum, The Queen sent an Instagram post during the visit.

View this post on Instagram

Today, as I visit the Science Museum I was interested to discover a letter from the Royal Archives, written in 1843 to my great-great-grandfather Prince Albert.  Charles Babbage, credited as the world’s first computer pioneer, designed the “Difference Engine”, of which Prince Albert had the opportunity to see a prototype in July 1843.  In the letter, Babbage told Queen Victoria and Prince Albert about his invention the “Analytical Engine” upon which the first computer programmes were created by Ada Lovelace, a daughter of Lord Byron.  Today, I had the pleasure of learning about children’s computer coding initiatives and it seems fitting to me that I publish this Instagram post, at the Science Museum which has long championed technology, innovation and inspired the next generation of inventors. Elizabeth R. PHOTOS: Supplied by the Royal Archives © Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) on

The post featured correspondence from The Royal Archives between Charles Babbage and The Queen’s great-great-grandfather Prince Albert about the Difference Engine, now part of the Science Museum Group Collection and on display in our Making The Modern World Gallery.

While visiting the Science Museum, The Queen also shared news of our new exhibition Top Secret on Instagram. The Queen was pictured with the Enigma M1070 machine from GCHQ’s collection.

Her Majesty The Queen sends an Instagram post for the first time, at the Science Museum.
Her Majesty The Queen sends an Instagram post for the first time, at the Science Museum.

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group said, ‘It is always a pleasure to welcome Her Majesty to the Science Museum, and I am delighted that HM The Queen has taken the opportunity to post on Instagram for the first time and announce Top Secret. our fantastic new exhibition.

‘This exhibition tells the incredibly important story of the hidden work that goes into keeping us safe every day. I’m thrilled that our expert advisors, GCHQ, have entrusted us with some of their most important objects, many of which are going on public display for the first time. Through this exhibition we want to engage people in the incredible work of our intelligence services and ignite their curiosity about future possibilities.’

The Queen has a longstanding relationship with the Science Museum and first visited in March 1938, as a princess, a few years after it launched a pioneering Children’s Gallery.

Queen Mary and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret arriving at the Science Museum, London, 21st March 1938. Photograph from the Science Museum's Archive.
Queen Mary and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret arriving at the Science Museum, London, 21st March 1938. Photograph from the Science Museum’s Archive.

In 2014, The Queen also sent a Tweet from the museum at the opening of our Information Age Gallery, marking the first time that a reigning British monarch contributed to the social media channel, sending one of the half a billion or so Tweets that are posted every day.

HM Queen Elizabeth II opens Information Age with a Tweet.
HM Queen Elizabeth II opens Information Age with a Tweet, 2014.

Today’s Instagram post marked the announcement of Top Secret, a new free exhibition that coincides with the 100th anniversary of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Security and Cyber agency who also act as expert advisors to the exhibition.

From Alan Turing and the team at Bletchley Park who cracked the Enigma code in 1941, to spy-craft developed during the Cold War, the exhibition will investigate the technologies that have kept communications safe and revealed secrets with world-changing consequences over the last 100 years.

Hear from the individuals carrying out top secret work to defend against terror attacks and serious crime, and discover the challenges of maintaining digital security today.

Meanwhile, an interactive puzzle zone will give visitors the opportunity to challenge their friends and family to become codebreakers themselves.

Jeremy Fleming, Director GCHQ said, ‘GCHQ has been at the heart of the nation’s security for 100 years. It has saved countless lives, given Britain an edge, and solved or harnessed some of the world’s hardest technology challenges. It’s a privilege to share the exciting story of our people and technology.

‘This exhibition is critical – not just for GCHQ, but for engaging the UK public. We want to inspire the next generation of cyber security and STEM skills experts for the challenges of the next 100 years. We believe that with the right mix of minds, anything is possible.

‘I hope that this unique collaboration with the Science Museum will encourage people of all ages and all parts of our society to think about the work we do and the role they could play in our future.’


Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security runs from 10 July 2019 – 23 February 2020.

Tickets are free and can be booked online. Find out more.