Royal Wedding Highlights Tech-Savvy Monarchy


There seems to be a big event happening today in London. Tom Jowitt looks at how the Monarchy is embracing IT in general, and social networking in particular

The British Royal family is often viewed as a very traditional and (by some) as an outdated institution, but the impending marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton has highlighted how tech-savvy the Royal family have become.

Of course many pundits, especially in the media, like to point out that William and Kate are the Royal family for the “Facebook generation.” Both are young, good looking, and lack the stuffy air that has often been associated with the Royal family in the past.

But maybe the Royals are even more tech-savvy than many of us imagine.

Getting Hip With The Youth

The Queen for example is known to own an iPod as well as having her own email account, and she is also said to use a BlackBerry. Not bad for a grandmother in her eighties.

Certainly RIM were only too keen to present the Queen with a brand new BlackBerry Bold 9700 when she toured its Canadian headquarters last year.

The Prince Of Wales meanwhile is a well known advocate of green technologies, long before it became a popular cause to support. Indeed, Prince Charles has previously praised thin clients and actively endorses the use of green tech, especially for energy and environmental needs.

And of course the Royals now have a veritable arsenal of technology it uses to interact with the public. For example the Monarchy has its own website, and indeed its own Facebook page. And there is even an official website for the wedding itself. Clarence House has its own Twitter feed (@ClarenceHouse) which will be used to provide live updates on the day of the wedding.

And not to forget the Royal Flickr stream of photos.

There are also the other related tech spins offs such as a host of wedding-related apps. And some foreign companies are even getting involved, with the news that Alcatel has launched a customised mobile phone to celebrate the Royal wedding.

And of course we will all be able to watch the entire wedding on YouTube, reportedly at the insistence of William and Kate, although the bride’s entrance to Westminster Abbey is unlikely to be as lively as this YouTube spoof video, courtesy of T-Mobile.

Infrastructure Strain?

The event has led to some warnings of the strain on infrastructure that the Royal wedding is placing on our aging infrastructure. Indeed, mobile operators are said to be making emergency preparations to boost network capacity in Kate Middleton’s home village of Bucklebury.

And it has also been reported that signal jamming technology will be deployed at Westminster Abbey to avoid disruptions to the service. This is a prudent security measure, but does also mean the service should not get interrupted by a cheesy mobile phone ringtone.

On the other hand, it does mean that Prince William will not be able to send Kate a quick SMS, along the lines of “Kate, you are still coming right?”

In any case, the blanket TV and internet coverage should ensure that billions of people will be able to tune in and watch the event. When women are asked why they will watch the wedding, most tend to say they want to see the dress. Incidentally I, like most men, find this particular fascination incomprehensible.

Changing Times

But in the end this royal wedding does show how much the Royals have moved on and are engaging with technology, and by extension, with their subjects.

In the past they have been accused of locking themselves away in an ivory tower, but times have changed and so have they. They are now exploiting social networking and other tech to connect with the great unwashed (err loyal) public.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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