The Duchess Of Cambridge Steps Into The Digital Frame As A Royal Influencer

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in Scotland and showing off their progress in their new social media strategy.

Duchess Of Cambridge

by Guy Pewsey |
Published on

In recent years, the nature of influence, celebrity and fame has shifted completely. Thanks to Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok, new individuals have risen to A-list status, using the internet as their ultimate tool. Now, the royal family is catching up, harnessing the digital sphere and exploring a world that they had, until now, steered clear of.

Above all, it is William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are leading the charge and taking the monarchy into the future, one Instagram like at a time. But it is not all about making fun videos and viral content: the couple are taking this new move very seriously.

Over the last few weeks, William and Kate have released a slick video of their family on the beach marking their 10th wedding anniversary, launched a new YouTube channel with the caption ‘Better Late Than Never’ and coordinated a digital campaign across social media to mark the release of Hold Still, a photography book featuring a foreword by Kate. In their first YouTube videos, the couple were visibly happy and relaxed in each other’s company – William jokingly warns Kate to ‘be careful’ of what she says; Kate tells William ‘you don’t have to roll your Rs’ – indicating the couple have taken an informal and relatable approach to these early forays into the influencer realm.

This has become crystal clear during this week's trip to Scotland. Their activities have been traced step by step across their social media as they learn to cook curry - William confessing an unsurprising aversion to spicy food - and to mix music. The accompanying videos have been sleek, slick and full of personality.

But while we may only be seeing the results now, the couple’s strategy has been years in the making. ‘This has long been on their agenda, for William and Kate but also for the whole family,’ says Katie Nicholl, author of Kate: The Future Queen. ‘There has been a plan in place for the royal family to go digital for some time. Those changes have taken place at a relatively slow and stable pace, but the pandemic really moved things forward.’

William and Kate know all too well that the future of their young family depends on them assuring the public that the monarchy has a real place in society in the decades to come. ‘Engaging with a young audience is a way of safeguarding the family,’ explains Katie. ‘If you can get the masses behind you, then the future of the monarchy is secure.’

Kate was so impressed with Meghan and Harry’s work that she hired David Watkins, their digital head, when their move to the US made his role redundant.

Their latest moves have gone down well, but some have noted that it follows groundwork laid by Harry and Meghan. ‘Digital and social strategies predate Meghan’s arrival in the family,’ insists Katie. ‘A source in the household said years ago that they knew that social media would be the way of the future, and that they would have to embrace that digital medium. But the Sussexes were so hot on social media that it accelerated things. You have to give credit where it’s due: Harry and Megan showed how successful it could be.’

Indeed, Kate was so impressed with Meghan and Harry’s work that she hired David Watkins, their digital head, when their move to the US made his role redundant. And last month the Cambridges advertised for a senior communications officer, skilled in telling stories across all platforms, to join their growing team of savvy advisers.

‘When it comes to recruiting new staff, digital skills and being fluent on social media is absolutely top of the list as far as the Cambridges are concerned,’ Katie says. ‘They’re investing in it and, so far, it has been proven to be a success.’

A royal source, however, makes it clear that despite the support of experts, Kate is very much leading the charge when it comes to deciding on concepts and settling on the right tone. ‘The Hold Still phone calls where the Duchess of Cambridge spoke with participants in the photography project were firmly her idea,’ they explain of the first series of videos to hit the couple’s YouTube account.

‘And the videos showing her leaving copies of the book for members of the public to find was inspired by something actor Emma Watson has done in the past: the duchess has watched and learned from past successes, taken advice and improved on ideas, and has thoroughly enjoyed it. We’re really going to see her grow and evolve in the coming months and years: expect intimate video diaries, light-hearted behind-the-scenes clips and informal new ways of marking royal milestones and birthdays.’

Kate and William’s efforts to engage with a younger audience is taken directly from the influencer handbook. Nick Rogers, founder of PR and influencer marketing agency The Cast, says that their relaxed demeanour so far indicates that they are well-suited to this sort of work.

‘The most successful people, generally, on social media are those who behave and conduct themselves with integrity and with truthfulness,’ Nick says. ‘The younger audiences are very savvy to authenticity, so William and Kate won’t want to stray too far away from who they really are.’

They also need to find the balance: for every follower who finds their engagement charming, there is another questioning why a family of such privilege is following celebrity trends. ‘There is a tension,’ Nick explains. ‘There are people who believe that the royal family shouldn’t necessarily be the next Kardashians, and that we don’t want to see the ins and outs of their lives. They are treading a fine line when it comes to relatability, but so far they’re doing it well.’

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