Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Royals online

Just a few years ago, a royal website was still an optional extra. In 2016, it's not just a must have, it's a must do really well. The arrival of a brand new Belgian Monarchy website, complete with videos, social media feed and kids' section just shows how important this mode of communication has become. The new site, about as modern as it gets right now, brings the Belgian web presence into line with a trend sweeping the courts of Europe.

 Belgian Monarchy website

The home page of the new Belgian Monarchy website on the day it was launched, March 15th 2016

Until today, the Belgian website had been a bit behind the times. It relied on small photos, lots of text and old style menus. Today, it's picture led with an ongoing social media feed and easy links to information on the Belgian Royal Family's agenda, engagements and official biographies and portraits. And the section to introduce children to royalty is a brilliant way of giving them an overview of the role of this ancient institution although King Philippe might have a thing or two to say about the cartoon version of him included in this part of the page.

Bringing the Belgian royals to a whole new audience - the children's section of the official website

The relaunch comes as other Royal Families see a change in their use of modern technology. The British Monarchy Twitter account now gives us a weekly video montage of photos and headlines from the past seven days and it's just reached a total of 2 million followers, making it easily the most popular royal account in Europe.

The picture led social media platform, Instagram, is all about the younger generation of royals though - Kensington Royal, launched about a year ago, has just reached 1 million followers there, easily ahead of all other regal accounts.

In Sweden, news of Prince Oscar's birth was given on the royal website with congratulations being posted on the Facebook account of his aunt, Princess Madeleine, who has also recently used her official page to share holiday photos of her children as a rebuff to paparazzi who were trying to get snaps of them on a sunshine break.

Congratulations to my sister Victoria and Daniel with the birth of their son! He was born today at 8:28pm here in Stockholm!
Posted by Princess Madeleine of Sweden on Wednesday, 2 March 2016

But social media and online communication can be a double edged sword for royalty. There was a bit of a backlash last week when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decided to publish photos of them and their children on a ski-ing holiday on their Kensington Royal Twitter account with criticisms being levelled at them of trying to control and stage their image too much. The fact that the holiday had been secret and the images only shared after their return only added to complaints.

Social media has changed the way that royals communicate and given them far more control over their image in a picture led world always hungry for information. More and more royal houses uses their Twitter and Facebook accounts to get details of engagements to audiences first - in fact, sometimes they share their own thoughts and pictures just like King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands who added a photo of Paris taken from inside the royal car as he and Queen Maxima arrived for a State Visit last week.

Onderweg naar de Arc de Triomphe.Foto: Z.M. de Koning
Posted by Het Koninklijk Huis on Thursday, 10 March 2016

The platforms used by royalty to share their work and messages with ever increasing audiences are also the historical records of the future. Which is why being online is more important than ever.

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