April 28th, 2011
09:30 AM ET

The British royals' wary dance with technology

(CNN) - Friday's nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton won't be the first royal wedding to captivate Anglophiles from around the world. But it will be the first with its own Twitter hashtag.

(That's #rw2011, if you're tweeting along at home).

The wedding's full-bore digital presence - from live-streaming video to mobile apps - casts a light on a royal family that, for the past century, has needed to, sometimes reluctantly, stay on the cutting edge of communications technology.

These days, that means a YouTube channel (created in 2007), a Flickr account for official photos, a Twitter stream for princes William and Harry and a Facebook page with 350,000 fans.

There were even plans to broadcast Friday's wedding in 3D, although they were eventually scrapped due to a perceived lack of interest and access.

"The Royal Family has embraced social media in its own time, which is typical of how a basically conservative institution has learned to adapt," said Charlie Beckett, director of a journalism and society think tank at the London School of Economics.

That adapting has taken multiple forms over the years for a family that's increasingly had to justify its relevance, and the money British taxpayers fork over to help maintain their lavish lifestyle.

"The success of the royal family over the last 100 years is that they have always adapted very quickly to an ever-changing society," said Mark Saunders, a royal biographer and contributor to CNN's royal wedding coverage.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Royal Wedding
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