There are far more former monarchies than reigning monarchies in the world left. In the years to come only more monarchies will disappear and become a republic. Nowadays there is a lot of criticism on the work ethics, the finances, the private holidays and a lot of other subjects.
You have to be seen to be believed, the late Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom once said. And she was right about that. Surely nowadays working behind the scenes is not enough anymore. People want to see, otherwise they don’t believe that members of royal families actually really work. These days the world is full of Republicans and “woke” people that use everything they want – or find online, even the biggest bullshit – to protest against the establishment or other things they don’t like. Sometimes they are right, most of the time they certainly are not.
Of course, the people that are well informed know that being a member of a royal family doesn’t mean that you only show up in public, smile and leave after one or two hours. The work includes much more, like meetings, talking with contacts, desk work, preparations for visits, with charities they are the patron(ess) of. Heads of state often have to sign laws and other paperwork, talk to politicians or fellow heads of state. Often when a couple has young children and they have school holidays, the parents try to be with the children as much as possible.
Social media has brought royals and people closer together as one of my contacts said. But it has also led to a greater interest in the work carried out by members of a royal family, not only in the native country, but also all over the world. The demand for information is therefore much bigger than in the past. While there is a chance to become overexposed, there is also the huge possibility that a member of the public snaps a photo of a royal on vacation or during a private outing. Whatever press offices of royal houses say, if a photo says otherwise it will certainly lead to negative reports.
Media and fans keep an eye on royal agendas and as soon as someone works less or hasn’t done anything in name of the royal family for a longer period, it is reported immediately. Last week I saw a report saying Princess Sofia of Sweden hadn’t been seen in public for an official royal event for more than a month. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was criticized for having a nearly empty agenda while her parents were on vacation. The court even reacted, saying that the Crown Princess Couple “is working as usual”. Also Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark were hardly visible for a while, despite of Queen Margrethe II having had surgery. A lot of people will simply believe what is written by media, without checking calendars themselves.
In the past years media have written about “lavish” holidays (private jets) or even too much vacation (Dutch King), which of course has a negative effect on the popularity of the monarchy. It is hard to justify expensive holidays or long periods of vacations, when it is not what the people can afford themselves. While lots of mothers nowadays have to work to earn money, royal mothers justify being absent from royal work by not having a lot of engagements when they take care of young children, even if they have nannies. It becomes clear that a lot of people don’t understand anymore when the family comes first, instead of the work for the nation.
Personally I find that some royals focus too much on certain subjects they are interested in and too little in other important issues. One should always focus on more than one subject. Also when, like in the United Kingdom, the calendar is very much based on charities that are royally supported, it could lead to others feeling neglected. I also feel a lot of royals don’t cover their whole country well enough. The Netherlands for example has twelve provinces, but only a few have regular visits from the members of the royal family. The focus of families is often on the big cities, where most people live. Too many new clothes, certainly in times of crisis, is not a good thing either. During the corona pandemic one could see that especially. It is very much appreciated when clothes are not from the established fashion designers, but sometimes also from more affordable labels. Also travelling could be done cheaper, even when it is not always easy to plan trips that way.
If it would be up to several royalty watchers, these would be important improvements:
An effective PR
Royal houses really have to sell themselves nowadays. The work behind the scenes is not obvious enough to many people. So how could that be changed? A huge problem is that some royal websites are badly updated. Even the royal calendar of the British royal family online often is missing out things, especially from the most important members like King Charles III, Queen Camilla, The Prince and Princess of Wales. It is one of the things the Spanish royal family is good at. They publish their royal calendar for the coming week usually each Friday. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia also nearly weekly show up in public several times.
Engagements are too often only made known afterwards, even when a certain amount of media is invited. That was perfectly fine during the corona pandemic, but not anymore. In some cases it is perfectly fine, especially if it is about people that are very vulnerable. More often it is just irritating, as it is not immediately visible why it wasn’t announced.
Although there are several royal families that nowadays let the locations itself do the accreditation for the media, I feel they should always stay in control and like in the Netherlands send the press announcements themselves. I’ve heard that in Luxembourg the court no longer takes care of that for regular engagements, that are not primarily about the family itself. I am not quite sure if that is the right thing to do, as from my point of view – being abroad and a royalty journalist – it means that I mainly receive information about what they are doing after an event has taken place, and most of the time from the court itself via their website and social media.
More use of social media
Instagram is a must nowadays, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube less, but it is very much appreciated when royal houses, or even individual royals, have their own account. Spain shockingly doesn’t have Instagram or Facebook, although they do nicely on Twitter and YouTube. The Japanese Imperial Family is finally moving forward to using social media, although I fear it is too much asked to post in English also, which is necessary to reach more people. Honestly there are some royalty watchers on social media that do a better job.
The social media interaction in many royal houses also could be much better, but investing in that of course costs money. Some have their own social media officer. As someone told me: the selection of moments and music seems to have the biggest impact on social media. A bit more behind the scene stuff would be welcome, or background information about visits, historical clothing or jewelry. Captions also should be good. Create videos – with captions -, publish them on social media or on YouTube, was one suggestion I heard. And yes, posts should look good visually.
2 thoughts on “The changing world of royalty – criticism”
Sometimes I think that not giving too much information to the general public in advance (instead of afterwards) has to do with security. If you look at presidential agendas in republics you see the same.
The Royal families must have someone who understands social media that is more attuned to the generation. They’re many young individuals who spends years into this who as well have a liking towards them and follows the RF and other royals. You’ve mentioned that they have an office for social media but I feel as if they don’t have the right group of people who understands it. You’d come across companies who have been investing lots of resources into there social media accounts. I feel the RF lacks in that kind of scope and the money shouldn’t be an issue.
I also wish royals provided Captions whenever people watch there videos just so people can understand them a bit. I am not quite sure they understand how much people outside of Europe also loves the Royal families.
I just don’t agree mainly with the money aspect of this. They do have money, Prince William started this project that was in the millions! I am not sure about the other royals since they’re not as transparent as the RF are. I generally agree with you though.