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William and Kate's World Wide Wedding

30 April 11 00:01
YouTube wedding logo
By Iain Mackenzie
Technology reporter, BBC News

The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton was an event for the internet age.

Great traditions of state were celebrated by the modern institutions of the web.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube were all given over to the royal wedding.

And, like the streets around Westminster Abbey, cyberspace was buzzing with talk of the big day.

Leading the online celebrations was the British monarchy's own royal wedding website.

Visitors were directed to the official Clarence House Twitter feed, the royal Flickr photo account, and the wedding "event" page on Facebook.

Royal tweets

Throughout the ceremony, @ClarenceHouse tweeted updates:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury begins the solemnization of the marriage #rw2011"

"The Fanfare plays! Congratulations to The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge! You can use our hashtag #rw2011 to send a message #royalwedding"

"The view of the couple arriving at Buckingham Palace from where we are based #rw2011 http://twitpic.com/4qxlhn"

"The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge appear on the balcony #rw2011"

"Find out about the food being eaten at the lunchtime wedding reception http://bit.ly/jUHKup #rw2011"

Trending topics

Talk of the wedding dominated Twitter, not just in the UK, but around the world.

The micro blogging site's top "trending topics" globally were all royal-themed.

Royal channel

While blogs and social networking sites provided users with a way of sharing their thoughts on the royal wedding, the internet also allowed people to watch the ceremony.

YouTube's live feed brought the BBC's pictures to a global online audience through the "Royal Channel".

It was the video sharing site's 23rd most-visited channel of the day, but trailed behind America's Next Top Model and Top Gear.

The BBC website, which also streamed the occasion, at one point experienced technical issues caused by "the sheer weight of traffic".

Many TV broadcasters also live streamed the wedding to mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet PCs.

Facebook figures

The world's largest social networking site, Facebook was quick to extract wedding statistics from its more than 500 million users.

Some of the more choice nuggets of information include:

Web traffic

Measuring the scale of a global media event is notoriously difficult.

The number of TV viewers has been estimated at around two billion. In reality, that is little more than an educated guess.

Quantifying the popularity of a topic on particular sites, such as Facebook and Twitter is possible.

However, it is difficult to gauge the impact on the internet overall.

At the height of the wedding, global web traffic, as measured by Akamai, was 39% higher than normal.

Although there is no firm evidence that this was due to the wedding, the United Kingdom was listed as a hot spot, with the country accounting for 11% of online activity.

Republican option

Such was the mood of global celebration that not even the notorious "Great firewall of China" was set to filter out information about William and Kate's nuptials.

The story, along with a picture of the bride and groom, topped the news page of the country's most popular search engine, Baidu.

Brits seeking a wedding-free news source had to look closer to home.

Refuge was to be found on the website of the Guardian Newspaper.

Visitors to the publication's homepage were presented with the option of a "royalist" version, complete with blanket coverage, or a "republican" version, devoid of the merest mention of William, Kate or Tara Palmer Tomkinson's hat.

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