A version of this story appeared in the May 7 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
London (CNN) – Our first royal vloggers? Not quite, but the vibe was certainly there when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appeared on a sofa, giggling together in a teaser for their new YouTube channel this week.
“By the way, be careful what you say now,” William quips to Kate while pointing to the camera. “Because these guys are filming it.” Kate nervously laughs “I know!” before the rest of the 25-second clip launches into a montage of official tours, engagements, red carpet events and a behind-the-scenes blooper, overlaid with a buzzy soundtrack.
While the teaser released on Wednesday included outtakes from a previous video, and the royal family already has a YouTube channel, this is about showing the couple’s work “in more depth,” a royal source told CNN.
The transition of reigns takes official effect the moment a monarch dies but, in reality, the process is ongoing well before then, and the revamped social presence is probably a part of that. Each heir in the direct line of succession is expected to reflect and represent their generation to keep the monarchy relevant. For millennial heirs William and Kate, if any platform defines this era of mass communication, then it’s social media – and if you want to go long-form then YouTube is the place to be. (Eagle-eyed royal fans may also have noticed the quiet change to the Cambridges’ Instagram account, with the couple migrating to a new @DukeandDuchessofCambridge handle to match the YouTube channel.)
So, what can subscribers expect from this new outlet? Well, the second video on the channel featured a powerful phone call between Kate, 4-year-old Mila Sneddon and her mother, Lynda. They had to isolate from Mila’s father, Scott, and big sister, Jodi, to protect Mila, who was receiving chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to Kensington Palace. The family were finalists in a lockdown photography competition run by the duchess. Their image documented Mila giving her dad a kiss through a closed window at their home in Falkirk, Scotland.
It’s a lengthy and compelling conversation in which you learn about Mila and the competition but also see the informal side of Kate, who has a passion for both photography and children’s welfare.
Some media figures are suspicious that the royals are ramping up the PR machine to try to control their own media rather than partner with mainstream brands as they have in the past. But the reality is that, for young people, YouTube is the mainstream, and the Cambridges are simply hoping to approach their audience directly.
The move seems to have paid off so far, with more than 249,000 subscribers in the first 24 hours and their first vid garnering 1.3 million views. Among the stream of excited comments, fans praised “the wonderful surprise” and thanked the couple for “giving the world transparency on life in the royal family.” Other users joked that someone was “gonna have to get them on challenges they’ve missed now” like the “spicy noodle challenge” or “ice bucket challenge.”
While it’s fair to assume the couple’s filming setup will require more than ring lights and mounted iPhones, their success will be measured by how much pickup they get, just like their content-creating counterparts.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Queen Elizabeth is making beer… Kinda.
Talk about a royal brew! You’ll soon be able to grab a regal cold one after the Queen launched her own beer brand this week. Organic barley grown in the grounds of the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in eastern England has been used to develop an Indian pale ale and a bitter. Both are available to buy from the estate’s gift shop. This isn’t the Queen’s first foray into the alcohol business – Buckingham Palace already sells its own gins, wines, whiskeys and even champagne.
Royals send Archie birthday wishes from afar.
The Queen led birthday messages from the royal family as Harry and Meghan’s son, Archie, turned two on Thursday. The 95-year-old monarch shared a photo of the proud parents and a newborn Archie from 2019 along with her note. William and Kate opted for a family portrait by fashion photographer Chris Allerton, taken after Archie’s christening, to accompany their social media shout-out. Prince Charles selected a different snap from the christening – a black-and-white shot of him admiring his grandson, who was carefully cradled in his dad’s arms. To mark their son’s birthday, Harry and Meghan invited well-wishers to make donations to help “bring vaccines to families in the world’s most vulnerable places.” The couple added that they “cannot think of a more resonant way to honor our son’s birthday.” Archie’s big day comes just after it was announced that Meghan had penned a children’s book inspired by Harry and Archie.
Charlotte is one sassy 6-year-old.
The princess may have only turned 6 on Sunday but she’s already got the cheeky attitude of a teen, according to her father. Prince William shared a cute story during an engagement Tuesday, saying his only daughter has been telling people she’s actually 16, the Daily Mail reported. Showing her feisty personality, her dad explained that she also says, “I’m six now. I’ll do what I want,” before he lamented “they grow up very fast.”
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Prince Charles is sending thank you notes to royal fans for their messages of condolence following his father’s death, complete with a touching throwback childhood photo. Instagram user Lise_m_d shared the card she received from the Prince of Wales’ office, which has black-trimmed stationery and a message which reads: “The Prince of Wales thanks you so much for your very kind message of sympathy. His Royal Highness has been enormously touched by the many generous messages that have been received in recent days; they have provided great comfort at this very sad time. The Prince of Wales sends you his warmest thanks and best wishes.” On the opposite page is a black-and-white photo of a 9-year-old Charles riding next to his father during a motorboat race up the Medina river at Cowes, Isle of Wight in July 1958.
ROYAL TEA BREAK
The Prince of Wales also personally thanked some of the soldiers who participated in Philip’s funeral, telling them they “did him proud.” Charles shared his gratitude with Welsh Guardsmen while visiting Combermere Barracks in Windsor on Wednesday – his first public event since the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest on April 17. Members of the 1st Battalion were part of the line up on the north and east sides of Windsor Castle’s quadrangle as the funeral procession set off.
“I was so enormously proud of those of you who formed part of the complement during my father’s funeral recently,” the 72-year-old said, adding that the family was moved by their service. Charles also told the soldiers he received phone calls from abroad “to say that they had never seen anything quite so marvelous, so beautifully done and with such dignity and style.”
“Of course, it is something for which you are all rightly famed, but I know my father would have been also enormously touched because he had dreamt up this particular way he wanted it done – so you did him proud,” he added.
Prince Philip served as the Colonel of the Welsh Guards from 1953 until 1975, when Charles took over.
FROM THE ROYAL VAULT
Lady Diana Spencer was only 19 years old when she was thrust into the public eye. As a shy society girl her style was not particularly fashion-forward, but over the years she created a distinctive persona through her often-meaningful sartorial choices.
IN THE ROYAL DIARY
Queen Elizabeth will deliver the Queen’s Speech – one of her most important ceremonial duties – in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday. The event is usually a fabulously colorful affair but as with everything in pandemic times, this year’s jamboree will be noticeably less … colorful. The event marks the first public appearance from the monarch since Philip’s funeral last month.
Adapted in the light of coronavirus, this year will be a “reduced ceremonial” opening. The House of Lords has modified the event on several occasions, including 2019, 2017 and 1974. It basically means the Queen wears normal clothes rather than the royal Robe of State, arrives in her Bentley as opposed to by carriage, and there are minimal ceremonial elements. She will be accompanied once again by Charles, who has been escorting the monarch since Philip’s retirement in 2017. Charles and wife Camilla will arrive shortly before the Queen – presumably as they are in a separate household bubble.
Ahead of the ceremony, there won’t be the usual pomp and pageantry, with no troops lining the route from Horse Guards Parade to the Palace of Westminster and equally there will be no military bands or guard of honor outside, a House of Lords press officer told CNN.
Attendance has been restricted and the small number allowed must submit a negative Covid test before appearing, the press officer added. Virus measures such as social distancing and the use of masks will also be employed.
During the event, the Queen reads out a speech written by the government that lays out its agenda for the year ahead and the bills it will introduce.
CNN’s James Frater contributed to this reporting.
The Queen marked the “significant” centenary of Northern Ireland this week with a tribute to its “rich mix of identities, backgrounds and aspirations” and the peace process. The monarch also stressed in a statement following weeks of sporadic unrest that it is clear “reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment.”