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Digital royal wedding: or #rw2011

Rory Cellan-Jones | 14:43 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Could 29 April give us the biggest live event the internet has ever seen? I’m talking of course about the Royal Wedding, which will attract a huge global television audience. But this morning St James’s Palace unveiled plans to make the day a huge interactive event - and the first Royal wedding with a Twitter hashtag #rw2011.

The fact that the engagement was announced via the @Clarencehouse Twitter account showed the Palace’s digital ambitions - now the hope is to follow that up with a truly interactive and social media wedding. “This is first for us,” a spokesman said at a briefing this morning. “It’s a new and exciting way to add to the enjoyment of the Royal Wedding.”

Clarence House announce the engagement on Twitter


So the official Royal Wedding website will be at the centre of an operation which will use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr to provide material about the day’s events - and to solicit content from the public.

The biggest innovation is that the broadcast footage of the royal wedding will be live streamed on the Royal Channel on YouTube. The pictures will be from the BBC - but the commentary will be in the form of a live blog, provided by a couple of St James’s Palace press officers typing away furiously, while keeping an eye on Twitter and other networks.

There’s another YouTube innovation - a video Wedding Book launched today which allows anyone to send a message of congratulations to the happy couple. You won’t be surprised to hear that will be pre-moderated.


Royal YouTube channel


Then there’s a Facebook Event on the British Monarchy page, where you can click to say “I’m attending” the Royal wedding. No guarantee that you will receive an invitation to the Abbey, but the promise is that you will have a “virtual” experience of the day, and Facebook is also launching a “Stories” app inviting anyone to describe how they celebrate the day.

Google will play a key role in keeping this operation afloat, running the YouTube channel and hosting the official website as a Google app.

So far, the website, with nine million page views, has enjoyed reasonable if not spectacular traffic. But on the day, it could come under a lot of strain with millions around the world experiencing the wedding as a “two-screen event”, watching the television while interacting online.

The wedding could surpass Barack Obama’s inauguration as a live web event, testing the web infrastructure in the same way as the National Grid used to see a power surge when people put the kettle on after a big football match. Let’s hope Google has a data centre or two on standby.

One question - why is the Palace doing all this, when the web population will be providing plenty of its own content around the wedding? We are told that it’s partly because Prince William and Kate Middleton are part of a generation that has grown up in a digital, interactive world - and are themselves enthusiastic users of new media.

But there are limits. Asked whether either of the couple would be updating their relationship status on Facebook on 29 April, a spokesman smiled and said: “Pass.”


  • Comment number 1.

    Will Harry be tweeting from behind the scenes like Franco at the Oscars?

    Apparently after the last rehersal Kate is now only 1 day away from being mayor of Westminster abbey on Foursquare :)

  • Comment number 2.

    Haha this won't change the fact that i won't be watching at

  • Comment number 3.

    Well this ruins my plans for avoiding the royal wedding- I thought I would be able to hide from it on the internet, maybe catch some good old Beeb IPlayer I didn't think of all the bandwidth being used up :'(
    Oh well, I'm sure Dave will have a QI marathon or some such...

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm actually looking forward to the royal wedding and seeing how it plays out across digital media. There aren't that many non-sports or non-political events that have this kind widespread interaction.

    We've made our contribution on YouTube... a music video about all the people who wanted to marry Kate but didn't. Will it go viral? Fingers crossed!

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh well, I'm sure Dave will have a QI marathon or some such...

    I'm pretty sure that if you're Prime Minister you're stuck with going to the wedding.

  • Comment number 6.

    I fail to see the point in all this online coverage to be honest.

    If you want to watch the wedding surely you would watch it on TV rather than via a browser? Are we really expecting masses of people to go on line all over the world to watch this on You Tube? I would imagine most countries in the Commonwealth and the US would have dedicated coverage on TV.

    In regards to the tweets - How is that going to be of any interest to anyone? It's not as if the wedding is happening outside in front of the crowd or anything. Are we going to get loads of people tweeting about how they are being crushed in a crowd waiting for something to happen?

    "Still waiting. Just been crushed by a man dressed as a Beefeater and some woman spilled her Pimms on me. Jolly good time. #rw2011"

    It all seems pretty pointless to me. Congrats to the happy couple though.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am so glad that I am a motorsports fan and video game player.

    I can watch the F1 from last weekend as I've not seen it yet, and after I've done with that I can go play my favourite video games (online against my mates) for a few hours to avoid the rubbish that will be on TV.


    "6. At 17:28pm 20th Apr 2011, SuperG wrote:

    I fail to see the point in all this online coverage to be honest."


    I think the point is that people can, and do, make money from the royals, so if there wasn't online coverage (or any coverage in any medium) of it all, someone somewhere in the chain would be losing $.


    "It all seems pretty pointless to me. Congrats to the happy couple though."

    Indeed it is. The only people who should be celebrating this wedding are those that directly know the couple and are attending the celebrations.

    But like everything in this country, that is in the media spotlight, every tom, dick and harry (no pun intended) feels they know the person and feels they should celebrate with them.

    At least that is the impression the media like to give.

    They might get a shock when the ratings for the wedding come in...


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