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The Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, or Catherine Middleton as she is now referred to, suggests all things traditional. However, showing its internet-savvy, from the tweet which officially announced the engagement, the Royal Wedding has fully embraced the fact that it is the first of the digital age.
The British Monarchy has taken to the digital and social media realm with much enthusiasm and with a popular Flickr account, over 300 000 “likes” on Facebook (41 000 on it’s first day), over 100 000 followers on the Twitter account @bristishmonarchy and near on 37 000 subscribers to an official YouTube channel the royals are well covered when it comes to social media.
That there’s an interest in all things British monarchy is not surprising. British publications such as Tatler and Hello Magazines seem to be based entirely on reporting on what colour fastener the 16th in line to the throne, Duchess so-and-so wore to this weekend’s polo match with the odd article about the days WAG de jour. However, the media also tells the stories the institution would rather not have publicised, such as what time Princes William and Harry left Bijou Nightclub, and just how inebriated they were.
This is where social media steps in.
Being the very embodiment of staid and traditionalist, it would not have been unexpected for the the monarchy to reject this online, and to many, ‘innovative,’ media avenue. However, the monarchy has recognised and embraced the brilliance of social media for public figures; that you, as the user, control the message.
With estimates ranging upwards of US$1-billion being spent by the public on the ‘Royal Wedding’, and some going so far as to say that the royal wedding may just be the panacea the ailing British economy needs, beyond the monarchy as an institution, there’s clearly much interest in the Royal Wedding.
The airing on radio of Prince Albert’s wedding, in 1923, was vetoed for fears that men in pubs still wearing their hats. It shows how far we have progressed that it was immediately be taken for granted that the Royal Wedding would not only be televised to billions, but also streamed live on the internet to an even wider audience.
The list of technological innovations this event has ratcheted up continues.
Within hours of the wedding, the soundtrack of the wedding will be available on iTunes for download, yet another first. And if you want all things Royal Wedding to be available to you at all times, in addition to the flood of unofficial Royal Wedding apps, the official app “will feature details of seven previous weddings” and “will be available to download for Apple and Android users from April 18”.
Since the mid-19th century with the beginning of daily mass media, royal weddings have been public spectacles which have been accompanied by a slew of merchandise, official and not. And us living in a digital age, it only stands to reason that the Royal Wedding, try as we may to run from it, would follow us online.
Perhaps the most fitting image of the Royal Wedding, instead of being the traditional kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony should be of Kate and Will, clutching their mobiles, updating their relationship statuses on Facebook to ‘now married.’