Prince Harry - a man who broke an Instagram record yesterday after his new account with his wife Meghan Markle (@sussexroyal) gained 2.1 million followers overnight - is not that into Instagram. At all.
Speaking yesterday at an event for YMCA organised by the Royal Foundation’s Heads Together campaign, the Duke of Sussex said 'growing up in today’s world, social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol,' before explaining his concern that young people are more likely to be bullied when they're constantly attached to phones and devices. As for comparing social media use to abusing substances, Harry said '[social media is] more dangerous because it’s normalised and there are no restrictions to it.'
So yes, it does seem ironic that Harry's so against social media, given he's one half of a now-record-breaking Instagram couple (could he now be referred to as an 'Instagram husband'? We're sort of into this), but it has to be said: there is substance to his points.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry launched their new Instagram page on Tuesday - having previously posted as a couple as part of the official @kensingtonroyal palace account, which they shared with Kate Middleton and Prince William - to great success. Meghan's prior social media presence, where she posted food photos and links to her lifestyle website, The Tig, was removed shortly before hers and Harry's wedding.
Ahead of the birth of their first child, take a look through Harry and Meghan's relationship to date:
July 2016: Meghan And Harry Meet
So when did the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, originally thought to be Markus Anderson (also the director of Soho house) but who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' after only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.
However, with their royal household (AKA: staff team) splitting from the Cambridges, things will be changing between the two couples. Currently living in the grounds of Kensington Palace, the Sussexes are preparing to move to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where they will welcome their first child. The Cambridges will of course stay put.
Though it's an opportunity for Meghan and Harry to do their own thing, the new Insta account won't quite be flatlays, #couplesgoals posts and pics of Meghan's dogs but instead a place to reflect Meghan and Harry's charity commitments. It could also, hopefully, combat trolling directed towards Meghan and Kate. In March, after it was revealed that staff were spending hours moderating hate-speech and vitriolic comments directed at the two Duchesses, especially Meghan, the Royal Family published Instagram guidelines.
Back at the event, Prince Harry referred to social media as 'mind altering', and called on people to be 'less connected to their phones' and that 'I think there is a global epidemic around young people’s mental health.' It isn't far from the truth. A recent study showed that comparison and self-esteem problems appear in much higher percentages in girls who had used social media since the age of 10, whilst social media is said to be a main factor behind milennials' soaring levels of anxiety and depression. Meghan has also previously said that she felt more free when she de-activated her social media accounts and lifestyle blog.
Though it's not the most normal thing to relate to a royal, we sort of get this one. Even if Harry's just got an Instagram account, we've all seen the damage that over-using platforms like Instagram can do to mental health. As we move further into 2019, we can all take example from Prince Harry's comments in thinking about how we can use social media in a more mindful way to protect young people's mental health.