Sunday, 6 August 2017

Royal social media stars of July 2017

Royalty relies on image. Since medieval times, the appearance of things regal plays a big part in the success or otherwise of a dynasty. From Holbein's portraits to Beaton's photos, one moment caught forever can have a huge say on the forever prospects of a royal family. In the 21st century, image remains just as important and is played out in many different ways with Instagram increasingly popular. Nearly all the royal houses of Europe have an official account now (we're looking at you, here, Felipe and Letizia because you broke our hearts not launching one to co-incide with the State Visit) and what they post there gives us a pretty good idea of how they want to be seen right now. Just as importantly, what we like gives a good indication of how we see the royals right now. And birthdays and cute kids always win. Nothing beats a birthday on Instagram. Except puppies, and we had one of those this month, too. In a cake filled month, here's what won hearts for the royals in July 2017.

To be honest, there was only ever one contender for most popular official royal Instagram of July 2017. Birthday boy George always had this one in the bag. Turning four guaranteed us a new official photo which had the top spot sorted before it was even released. But the Chris Jackson portrait of a smiling George was successful beyond anything seen so far on official royal Instagram accounts. It took 307k likes and counting in just a few days, making it easily that channel's most liked photo ever and. That's in a month with a lot of photos to get through as the Cambridges toured Germany and Poland, hit Wimbledon and did the whole State Banquet thing when King Felipe and Queen Letizia came to call. Nothing came close to George.

Birthdays played big in Sweden, too, this month where the official royal Instagram account was on fire and winning more hearts than you can shake a stick at. There was a rush of shared images for the 40th birthday of Crown Princess Victoria and you put a popular princess, big birthday and Instagram together and you get a mad rush of likes. The most popular image, just, was this stand out snap of Victoria with her children, Estelle and Oscar, on the carriage ride through Stockholm on her birthday. This is what royal Instagram is all about. A fab photo, behind the scenes and giving us something we wouldn't otherwise see and all taken by Victoria's husband, Daniel, as the two of them tried to keep adventurous Oscar in the carriage itself. But it had stiff competition with official portraits of Victoria almost beating it to top spot and an image of the whole Swedish Royal Family released to celebrate summer hot on its heels. It's been a really successful month for Sweden's royals and that's written large on the Instagram page where the House of Bernadotte can currently do no wrong.
Belgium's official royal Instagram account also had its best month ever. This is one of the newest around and it's still building a following. Right now it has just under 6,500 followers compared to Kensington Palace's 2 million. So it's most liked image of July is a real triumph. OK, it's only on 3,000 or so likes but that's about half its followers and it's easily the most popular post it's had so far. And it shows that the next generation of the country's royals are bringing in the likes - this photo of heir to the throne, Princess Elisabeth, with her two brothers and sister was shared to mark Belgium's National Day on July 21st and outdid anything else on the account with no questions asked. Check out the comments, Elisabeth is a royal star in the making.

Back to the birthdays and another anniversary special ended up as the most liked Instagram post on the official Norwegian royal account. The slightly awkward photo of Crown Prince Haakon Magnus unveiling the, shall we call it unusual, statue of his mother, Queen Sonja, on her actual 80th birthday took at terrific 2,115 hears in July, making it one of this new account's most popular posts ever. This royal channel started out by promising to put the people and places visited by the Royal Family at the top of its agenda but in a summer of celebrating birthdays, it's the family itself who have ended up centre stage with the like count going up as a result.  Pretty pictures of princes and princesses are where it's at with Instagram.

If you don't have a really big birthday or a huge anniversary to post about, pets will always prove popular. Denmark's royals gave us a dog on Instagram in July 2017, what's not to love? Crown Princess Mary shared two photos of her family's new pet dog, Grace, on the official account and sent the heart meter soaring. The pair of snaps took in over 13,000 likes during the month. The comments are interesting, too. Plenty of those who left a message were oohing over Grace and remembering Ziggy, the princely pet pooch who passed away earlier this year. This post is a great example of how Instagram and social media allows the royals to take full control of their image - Instagram offers the royals a chance to add something more personal to the public image on their own terms while keeping their hands firmly on the keys to the castle door.
There were no really big birthdays or new pets for the Dutch royals to celebrate but fear not, that other favourite regal staple, the summer holiday pose, swept in from the right at the start of July and topped the official Instagram likes for the month. We got a whole album of lovely images from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima as they posed alongside their three daughters and they got over 13,000 likes in return. It all comes back to the same thing, that image of happy family with a focus on the next generation. 
Did I mention birthdays were always popular on Instagram? That new photo of George at four was the most liked image on the official account of Clarence House with 12.1k hearts but coming in second was another birthday image. The Mario Testino portrait released for the 70th birthday of the Duchess of Cornwall, showing Camilla and Charles getting cuddly, took almost 9,000 likes which is a good showing for this account which is image heavy but usually sees pics taking 1-2,000 hearts a go. And it had a busy month with an avalanche of images of the couple's engagements as well as some fabulously fun shares from the past so this tally of support is pretty impressive all round.
Prince George also topped the poll on the official Royal Family account as well with 77,000 likes and counting there. Overall, that one image has taken around 400,000 hearts in just over a week of publication, an indication of the power of one photo. A photo of George, Charlotte and their mum and dad came in second with 36,000 likes. In fact, the Cambridges dominated the Royal Family most liked list, too, despite another busy month of regal images there. At a time when William and Kate are coming under increasing scrutiny over their workload, it's interesting to see that in the image led world of Instagram, one smile is enough to win plenty of friends and influence people, briefly at least. For that's the other side of social media. The narrative can change instantly on both sides. The posts tell us how the royals want to be seen, the likes tell us what we want to see and like everything in life, it's fluid. July 2017 was all about birthdays but it will be interesting to see where the love lies in times when there's no cake to eat.

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