The words "God save the queen" were recently spoken in space for (possibly) the first time when British astronaut Tim Peake uttered the famous phrase in a video message sent to Earth on Dec. 31, 2015.
Peake recorded the message from the International Space Station (ISS), and included a short greeting to Queen Elizabeth II, who is 89 years old and Britain's longest-reigning monarch. In the video, Peake responded to a personal message of salutation that Her Majesty had sent to him.
"Welcome aboard the International Space Station," Peake said, with the flag of the United Kingdom displayed over his left shoulder. "I'm truly honored to have received Your Majesty's message, inspired by its wording and humbled to represent the U.K. and Europe aboard the ISS." [Amazing Space Photos by ESA Astronaut Tim Peake]
Peake said he enjoyed looking at the British Isles from space, and that he hoped that his mission would bring the United Kingdom together, particularly given its history of scientific exploration. He then closed his message with "God save the queen," saying he wasn't sure it had ever been said in space before.
Queen Elizabeth sent a memo to Peake on Dec. 15, right around the time he was launching toward the station for a half-year mission in space. A photo on the British Monarchy's website shows the photocopied memowith the Buckingham Palace letterhead at the top.
The queen wrote that she and her husband, Prince Philip, send best wishes to Peake. "We hope that Major Peake's work on the space station will serve as an inspiration to a new generation of scientists and engineers," she added. "We join with his friends and family in wishing him a productive mission and a safe return to Earth."
Peake is the first British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to visit the ISS.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace