Friday 24 May 2019

Caitlin McBride: 'How social media plays a crucial role in the news of Baby Sussex'

Meghan and Harry. PIC: SussexRoyal/Instagram
Meghan and Harry. PIC: SussexRoyal/Instagram
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

In some media circles, influencer can be considered a dirty word and in royal circles, celebrity is even more controversial.

With Meghan Markle’s well established career in Hollywood before marrying into the British royal family, she was fluent in the power of Instagram - both as a side earner and an outlet through which she could champion her causes.

It wasn’t just coincidence that Meghan and Harry launched their own Instagram account Sussex Royal just weeks before the birth of their first child; but rather a carefully thought out move. It allowed them to time to grow their audience and establish a relationship with them working towards the goal of giving them exactly what they want: family pictures.

After it was announced that the Sussexes would be shunning the traditional post-birth royal photocall in favour of a more low-key photoshoot a few days later, which they share on their social media accounts, it was clear they represented the next generation of royals, ones who weren’t beholden to the rules of the past (which in this case, applies to traditional media).

Britain's Prince Harry walks up to the awaiting media after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to a baby boy, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire county, Britain May 6, 2019. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry walks up to the awaiting media after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to a baby boy, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire county, Britain May 6, 2019. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS

While Harry today announced the birth of their baby boy to the press at Windsor, the couple also announced the news on their official Sussex Royal Instagram account but there have been no photos or name revealed as yet. Harry reiterated that they will reveal their baby to everyone "as a family, as planned" in two days time.

Via Instagram Meghan, who has been sequestered into silence since she wore that first tiara last May, finally has an outlet to use her voice. Over the last year, while her father was selling stories and private notes she wrote him and her half siblings would say anything for a quick buck, she had to sit idly by and allow the criticism to rain down unabated.

Britain's Prince Harry smiles as he speaks to the media after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to a baby boy, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire county, Britain May 6, 2019. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Harry smiles as he speaks to the media after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to a baby boy, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire county, Britain May 6, 2019. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS
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Today marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth - a family of 53 countries working together to promote democracy, protect human rights, regenerate the environment, and focus not on what makes us different - but rather what we have in ‘common.’ What unites us versus what divides us. Representing nearly one third of the world’s population, 60% of whom are under the age of 30, the Commonwealth also serves as a champion for youth empowerment, which is a key focus of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Her Majesty The Queen serves as patron of the @queens_commonwealth_trust, which Their Royal Highnesses proudly serve as President and Vice-President of. The Duke is also Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Through The Duke and Duchess’ Commonwealth travels, they have worked with and supported young leaders on mobilizing youth engagement, and working towards a more unified future that spearheads progress, sustainability, optimism, and taking action. With that said, Mozambique, a member state of the Commonwealth, is currently enduring Cyclone Kenneth, the most destructive natural disaster the northern coast has ever experienced. On the heels of Cyclone Idai (where over 1000 people lost their lives) this cyclone will leave the people of Mozambique victim to catastrophic flooding, food insecurity, displacement, and obliteration of their homes and villages. If you’d like to help, please visit DEC.org.uk Photo credit: Chris Jackson & Samir Hussein

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In fact, the intensity of the sexist and racist vitriol aimed at her and, to a lesser extent her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, Kensington Palace was forced to take a stand and announce their new social media guidelines if you wanted to be part of the KP online community. They are also working with bosses at Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in order to make the internet a happier place for everyone.

While the Kensington Palace account is more work-focused, using exclusively professional pictures from official engagements, Sussex Royal has adopted a more approachable technique, using never-before-seen pictures from trips to Africa and Tonga, some taken by official photographers and others simply phone pictures.

Town crier, Tony Appleton poses as he announces the birth of a son for Britain's Prince Harry, and Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, outide of Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 6, 2019. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Town crier, Tony Appleton poses as he announces the birth of a son for Britain's Prince Harry, and Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, outide of Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 6, 2019. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
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Today is #earthday - an opportunity to learn about, celebrate and continue to safeguard our planet, our home. The above, Their Royal Highnesses in Rotorua, New Zealand. Of the 170 different species originally planted in the early 1900’s, only a handful of species, including these majestic Redwoods, remain today. Next, we invite you to scroll through a series of 8 photos taken by The Duke of Sussex©️DOS sharing his environmental POV including: Africa’s Unicorn, the rhino. These magnificent animals have survived ice ages and giant crocodiles, amongst other things! They have adapted to earth’s changing climate continually for over 30 million years. Yet here we are in 2019 where their biggest threat is us. A critical ecosystem, Botswana’s Okavango Delta sustains millions of people and an abundance of wildlife. Huge bush fires, predominantly started by humans, are altering the entire river system; the ash kills the fish as the flood comes in and the trees that don’t burn become next year’s kindling. Desert lions are critically endangered due partly to human wildlife conflict, habitat encroachment and climate change. 96% of mammals on our 🌍 are either livestock or humans, meaning only 4% remaining are wild animals. Orca and Humpback whale populations are recovering in Norway thanks to the protection of their fisheries. Proof that fishing sustainably can benefit us all. Roughly 3/4 of Guyana is forested, its forests are highly diverse with 1,263 known species of wildlife and 6,409 species of plants. Many countries continue to try and deforest there for the global demand for timber. We all now know the damage plastics are causing to our oceans. Micro plastics are also ending up in our food source, creating not just environmental problems for our planet but medical problems for ourselves too. When a fenced area passes its carrying capacity for elephants, they start to encroach into farmland causing havoc for communities. Here @AfricanParksNetwork relocated 500 Elephants to another park within Malawi to reduce the pressure on human wildlife conflict and create more dispersed tourism. Every one of us can make a difference, not just today but every day. #earthday

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Not to mention the fact that the language used is American in spelling, prompting many to believe that if Meghan doesn’t simply write them all, she likely edits them. And last Wednesday, they unfollowed all other royal accounts, whittling down their follower list to just 16 in a bid to support charitable organisations and mental health initiatives.

“To pay tribute to all of the incredible work people across the globe are doing in this space, we are hoping to shine a light on several Instagram accounts that promote mental well-being, mental fitness, body positivity, self-care, and the importance of human connection - to not just hear each other, but to listen,” they wrote.

A man dressed as a town crier outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire following the news of the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new baby boy. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
A man dressed as a town crier outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire following the news of the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new baby boy. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

“Each month we will honour this same concept and change the accounts we solely follow based on a different theme or cause. Please go to our homepage and click “following” to see each of the select accounts and find out more about their work.”

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What an incredibly special surprise the grassroots led #globalsussexbabyshower was last Sunday! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are immensely grateful for the outpouring of love and support in anticipation of the birth of their first child. In lieu of sending gifts, the couple have long planned to encourage members of the public to make donations to select charities for children and parents in need. If you already made a donation, the couple send you their greatest thanks. If you are thinking about it, they ask that you kindly consider the following organisations they’ve selected, which we will highlight here over the next few days: @thelunchboxfund @littlevillagehq @wellchild @baby2baby The Duke and Duchess remain appreciative for your warm wishes and kindness during this especially happy time in their lives! Thank you for sharing the love ❤️

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It’s a bold decision and blows protocols out the window: they are not just using Instagram as a vehicle to promote their work, but they are taking it one step further in actionising that passion into something of substance.

The same applies to the birth of their baby. The Cambridges often share pictures of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on their social media pages, but those are supplements to the images already released through photo agencies to newspapers and websites; whereas Sussex’s birth announcement was practiced in reverse.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are so grateful for the well wishes in anticipation of their first born. Today we introduce you to one of four charities the couple has asked that you consider supporting in lieu of sending gifts. Please meet The Lunchbox Fund:@thelunchboxfund provides a nutritious daily school meal to children in South Africa who would otherwise go hungry. Since its inception, @thelunchboxfund has provided over 20 million meals to school children in need. This meal encourages children to attend school and enables them to better concentrate and maximise their learning potential. As President and Vice President of The Queens Commonwealth Trust, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are committed to supporting the children and communities of the 53 commonwealth countries around the world. For those members of the public who have graciously asked to send baby gifts for the couple’s upcoming arrival, they ask that instead, you consider lending your support to @thelunchboxfund or the other 3 charities we will be sharing on our page Thank you for your kindness! Photos courtesy of: @thelunchboxfund

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All of the royals are young, despite how they may dress on occasion, but William, Harry and Kate have largely been shielded by its impact because they’ve had to stay away from it in order to protect their privacy, unlike Meghan who is fluent in reach and metrics.

Tourists and members of the public gather at the gates of Buckingham Palace in London on May 6, 2019, following the announcement that Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a son.. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
Tourists and members of the public gather at the gates of Buckingham Palace in London on May 6, 2019, following the announcement that Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has given birth to a son.. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

Their approach isn’t unlike their Swedish counterparts Prince Carl Philip and his wife Princess Sofia, both second born sons who married ‘normal’ women and have a happy life together. Unlike The Royal Palace’s account, theirs is refreshingly down-to-earth with sometimes blurry pictures and candid shots of them at work - or at play.

Isn’t that exactly what it was built for?

Online Editors

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