OTTAWA (AFP) – Queen Elizabeth II received a BlackBerry handset as a gift on Monday while touring the Canadian headquarters of its maker, Research in Motion.

The monarch is said to be a fan of the popular smartphones, ever since her her son, Prince Andrew, introduced her to them a few years ago.

Company co-founder Mike Lazaridis presented queen with the most current model, the BlackBerry Bold 9700, personalized with an image of area school children offering her flowers.

Dressed in a creme-colored hat and a white smock, Elizabeth was also given a rare glimpse inside the Waterloo, Ontario factory where the devices are made.

The site was described in pool reports as a cavernous, white room dotted with spotless workstations and large automated machines.

The polished floors are marked with yellow stickers warning people that they are entering an “electrostatic sensitive” area. The smocks worn by the queen and her entourage, including by a red-clad Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer over his uniform, guard against electrostatic shocks.

Canada’s titular head of state was greeted inside by dozens of workers in blue smocks who would normally be busy on their computers designing and making the latest smartphones.

According to a spokeswoman for RIM, it was the first time media have been allowed on RIM’s workfloor.

[via]