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Royal Hearts in February 2017

Not even Kate and William on the red carpet at the BAFTAs could beat the month's best liked Instagram photo - read on to see where all the hearts went in February

Want to know what the royals really think? One way of getting an idea of how they want us to look at them is to check their social media. In this era of mass sharing and posting, what goes on social media platforms is a reflection of self image and what we want everyone else to see. And in this image led world, the image led medium of Instagram lets the pictures do the talking. But communication is a two way street and the most liked photos on official royal Instagram accounts can tell us just what most people think of royalty right now. Here's what got royal hearts in February 2017.

For the first time in a long time, it's not the Kensington Palace Instagram giving us the most liked royal photo of the month. With its massive following of 1.7 million, outsizing every other regal account, KP usually tops this poll with ease. But then it was up against history this month. The most liked royal Instagram of February 2017 was the photo of the Queen in sapphires, re-issued by Buckingham Palace to celebrate Elizabeth II's 65 years on the throne.  The heart count on this one is already over 66,000 and it's easy to see why. David Bailey's portrait is perfect and add in the symbolism of the jewels for her Sapphire Jubilee and their significance for the Queen with their link to her father and you have an image that will linger long in the memory.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended The Guild of Health Writers Conference this evening in London, which focused on mental health and specifically, anxiety. In a speech to the conference audience, The Duke said that too many people still suffer in silence. "This means that what often starts as a fairly minor issue becomes something serious and medical after time...but talking can lead to help and support." Over the next few months with the Heads Together campaign, TRH's are encouraging people from all walks of life to record videos explaining how it feels to open up and talk to someone else. HRH said: "We want 'someone else' to be celebrated - simply for taking the time to ask 'are you okay?' and to properly listen to the answer." The Duke explained that he, The Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry all "want to get the country talking about mental health."
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KP's own best liked image was a loved up look between Kate and William which quickly brought in over 62,000 likes when it was posted at the start of the month. It raises an interesting question about social media use by the royals. There was no way this image wasn't going to get hearts - Kate looks seriously smitten while William is going all giggly and we all love a royal happy ever after. But does the PR go further. This photo was taken as they arrived at the less than glamourous sounding Guild of Health Writers Conference. They were there to talk about mental health issues and promote their Heads Together campaign. This engagement was always in danger of slipping under the radar - one romantic photo later, it's the event still being talked about now February is done.

Kensington Palace used to rule the royal roost when it came to Instagram but it is getting really big competition now from other royal accounts. In Sweden, thre was a huge heart count for the official birthday photos of Princess Estelle who turned five on February 23rd. It is on around 37,000 likes right now - about half the hearts for William and Kate but from a following a sixth of the side. And yet more proof that a happy photo of popular royals will always work on Instagram.

Royal accounts are really getting the hang of making a great, personal photo do all the talking. What's not to love about the mother/daughter selfie of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark with Princess Isabella during a family ski-ing trip to Switzerland? Over 12,000 likes and counting says many people were totally charmed by it. These kind of personal snaps on social media allow royals to let the world see their children grow up while protecting them from having photos of them taken without permission or as part of a media scrum. It's a canny move and one that's paid off for Denmark's royals this time round.

People is what it's all about but as Norway's ruling house is finding out, if you're managing a royal account then most interest is going to be in, well, royals. When the official Instagram launched late last year, the Norwegian Royal Household said it would feature snaps of the family of King Harald as well as the people they met. But by far the most popular images on there are, unsurprisingly, of the royals. In February, most hearts (all 715 of them) went to one of the official photos of Princess Astrid that were released to mark her 85th birthday. Let's face it, Astrid isn't one of the best known of Europe's royals right now but there was a lot of love for this sweet picture which also touches base with a social media staple, a pet. But the comments alongside it show a lot of love for Astrid too. A princess born as the thirties got under way is leading a charge on 21st century media.

Another fledgling account saw its biggest heart count for a personal photo. This sweet snap of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde as they attended the annual service at Laeken remembering members of their royal family who have died won 347 hearts which, let's face it, is a drop in the ocean compared to some other accounts.  But for this account, it's a big haul (around one tenth of its following) and with its focus on the heart of the Belgian Royal Family, it indicates that this new regal foray into Instagram might have the whole concept in the bag already.

A post shared by Clarence House (@clarencehouse) on

Let's end with the best social media snap of the month which also ended up as the most liked on the official Clarence House account. Charles and Camilla can't match William, Kate and Harry for Instagram followers (they have 192,000, around a tenth of the KP account) so the heart count will never be as high but this fab photo of the Duchess of Cornwall on skis shared at the end of the month racked up almost 5,000 likes in a very short space of time. The personal snap was added with a message to take care as Storm Doris hit the UK at the end of February and shows just how savvy royal social media use has become. Hitting buzzwords, using hashtags and adding never before seen photos. It's why people go to Instagram and shows just how on top of this modern media phenomenon Europe's royals have become. 


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