My fascination with the Royal Family started years ago when Kate Middleton got married to William, the future King of England. I remember the huge worldwide event- every single TV at my high school was tuned in on the Royal Wedding. It was a like a fairytale – a “commoner” was marrying into the British monarchy! My love for the British Royal Family grew after spending a semester abroad in London this past Spring. While I was there, I admittedly was obsessed with the idea of seeing them in public. So, like any millennial would do nowadays, I followed the British Royal Family on social media to track their activities and to hopefully catch a glimpse of them driving around London (or get invited to tea at Buckingham Palace).
As one of the most well-known governing bodies in the world, the British Royal Family has been intensely watched by the public for centuries. The fascination surrounding the family has led to continuous news coverage, and this curiosity has influenced a rapid flow of tabloid headlines covering scandals and rumors involving the family. On the other hand, real authentic news have been heavily restricted by the monarchy, and announcements from Buckingham Palace have traditionally been restricted to print newspapers. Whether or not the coverage is real or fake, the monarchy has had a long history of bad relationships with the press and news outlets, from the death of Princess Diana to topless pictures of Kate Middleton on vacation.
As the world becomes more interconnected and transparent, it has become easier to learn about the lives of influential figures. People (like myself) LOVE the British Royal Family. News publications and tabloids love them too! PEOPLE magazine has a page solely dedicated to the Royals. See here. Monarchies and governments around the world have had to adapt to changes in the protection of privacy. While the times have certainly changed since the beginning of the monarchy, the British monarchy has had to continuously adapt to changes in its empire and in the world, including digital transformations.
So.. how has the British monarchy adapted to the changing tides?
Well, the short answer is: They signed up for Twitter. But no, the Queen does not tweet.
However, the Queen and the royal family apparently LOVE social media.
“She’s always been conscious of improving the ways we communicate the work of the royal family. She’s been an enthusiastic supporter of social media since the early days of it.”
-Palace source to PEOPLE magazine
Buckingham Palace even hired a social media consultant last year in order to increase the presence of the royal family in the digital space. The job description required the following:
- To boost the Royal Family’s presence on Twitter and Facebook and ensure that there is a worldwide audience.
- Make sure digital channels consistently spark interest and reach a range of audiences
- Require experience of managing and editing high profile website, and other digital formats
- Lead, develop and inspire others through people management
The royal family’s efforts have certainly paid off, and their online presence is increasing everyday. The royal family’s Twitter page (@RoyalFamily) currently has 3.26 million followers and over 26.3K tweets detailing the work and activities of The Queen and members of The Royal Family. It is a great way to learn about the official activities of the family; however, sadly, we don’t get any pictures of the Queen just hanging out with Phillip and their corgis (sad). In addition to Twitter, the Royal Family also has accounts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
In addition to detailing the official activities of the Queen, the royal family has decided to turn to social media in order to appeal to younger audiences. The monarchy’s beloved princes, Prince William and Prince Harry have used social media to talk about their experiences and share about their lives. For example, Prince Harry and Prince William have turned to digital resources to bring attention to the Heads Together campaign to end stigma surrounding mental health. As part of the campaign, Kate Middleton, William, and Harry were featured in a YouTube video discussing and reflecting on the importance of mental health awareness. The Heads Together has 3.7K subscribers and has been viewed over 250,000 times. Aside from YouTube videos, Prince Harry has also utilized the Facebook Live feature. In July 2016, Prince Harry was filmed on FB Live getting an HIV test in order to encourage others and remove the stigma surrounding tests.
Let’s face it, having a social media presence is really good PR for the British monarchy. Social media allows the royal family to showcase their latest humanitarian efforts as well as other official activities. The family exists because the public allows them to, and they need to make sure that they are effectively communicating with the public. During times when the concept of monarchy sounds outdated, the royal family can use social media to generate sympathy and popular support from the public, especially a public that has a growing generation of millennials who are addicted to digital. Royal expert Victoria Howard, editor of The Crown Chronicles, says that “people often expect that the monarchy is only of interest to older generations, but the younger rolls’ use of social media is creating a relationship with a younger audience.” I mean, who doesn’t love watching Prince Harry doing a great deed? Swoon.
While it is great that the British monarchy has leveraged social media and digital platforms to communicate with the public, I wish that the interactions were more personal. For example, many of the content on their social media platforms sound heavily scripted. Of course there are security details and implications surrounding complete open communication and transparency; however it would be great to see the British family tweet or share with the public about other aspects of their lives.
The future of the monarchy will one day rest in the hands of the Royal babies, Prince George and Princess Charlotte (and Baby #3 on the way), who will all grow up in a world with technology. I wonder how the Royal Family will continue to adapt to advancements in technology. Either way, I’m excited to continue stalking them!