Although it shouldn’t be necessary, the British royal court on 4 March 2019 introduced what they call “Social Media Community Guidelines“. As lots of us royalty watchers have noticed over the years, the Internet has changed. I recently wrote a bit about that subject. A group of people – not only teenagers but also lots of adults – thinks social media should be used as a platform to say everything they want and attack others. Social media are nowadays not the most safe place for discussion anymore. Harmless comments and questions can be answered in such a way that people don’t feel safe online anymore. Several royals, including the Duke of Cambridge and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, have become engaged in campaigns against cyber-bullying.
It is actually quite sad that the British royal court feels the need to issue guidelines for behaviour that should be the completely normal. Everybody wants a safe environment where one can make comments, ask questions and come with suggestions without being attacked for doing so. On social media people can be easily misunderstood and of course there are cultural differences to overcome. However not everybody is interested in respecting that and react with courtesy, kindness and respect.
Should the British royal court have issued such guidelines? Sadly it seems so, although most people seem to think it is long overdue. Their social media accounts have millions of followers and not all of them try to behave. Instead of deleting comments, blocking people without warning, the royal court now have issued something that makes it fully legal for them to do so. Although it sounds like an easy thing to do, the preparations might have taken much more time than people expect. And extreme posts can even be reported to the police. Over the years comments on their social media have become more obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory, violent and discriminating. Things have become worse since Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, entered the family. Already in the past Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall was regularly attacked. Will the new guidelines make a difference? One could wonder if it really helps. Trolls will be deleted and probably come back under another name and another account.
Do other royal families have a similar problem? Maybe not to the same extend, also because these royal houses are less widely known and hopefully attract less trolls. But yes there are nasty comments on their social media also. When the Dutch royal family recently posed during their skiing holiday in Austria I noticed again at Facebook how negative people can react. Already for years comments are written about the weight of Amalia, the Princess of Orange each time she appears in public.
You just hope the royals themselves never search for information about themselves online and don’t read the worst comments.