Prince Harry’s memoir Spare proves the royal family needs better digital strategy to survive the influencer age

Posted by Sara McCorquodale in Comment

9 months ago

The revelations in Prince Harry’s memoir Spare have come thick and fast since it was accidentally released in Spain and major interviews between the exiled royal in the UK and US have added fuel to the fire. Whether you care or not about how the fifth in line to the throne lost his virginity, the fallout of his tell-all story has raised serious questions about the monarchy. Is it an intrinsically cruel institution? And if so, why is the taxpayer funding it? 

Questions and arguments will continue to escalate for one major reason: the royal family will say nothing and we, the public, don’t really know them. There is so much grey area and so much distance, and in the age of the influencer that feels weird. Some might argue that Harry and Meghan have gone too far – revealed too much – but at least the public knows who they are. The extent to which they have owned and monetised their story is pure influencer strategy.

Meanwhile, the Prince and Princess of Wales are fighting back through “sources” talking to the mainstream press. They haven’t posted on Instagram since Christmas Day and their YouTube channel is as sparse as ever. Their digital strategy is 2014 at best because they still think that they, as human beings, are not the story and  should not be the story. Yet in reality the only way they can fight back against the picture that Prince Harry is painting is by developing their own narrative and giving us a proper window into their lives. In short, if the Wales’ aren’t seriously considering hiring an influencer strategist at this point, they can’t expect anything to change. 

Now, don’t mistake me. Do I want to see inside Kate’s handbag in a detailed YouTube video? Yes, 100%. Do I think that’s what they should do? Probably not. The fact is, there are many creators who hold their audiences at arm’s length but still manage to  build a trusted relationship. It’s about tone, aesthetics and style – deciding what you’re happy for people to know and sharing it in a modern way. While the Wales’ have social media, the imagery feels more akin to traditional press photography and their videos would be more at home in a news bulletin. It’s all so controlled, so scripted. I think Harry and Meghan’s work is too, but they understand the environments they are publishing in explicitly. 

We are now in a new era of the royal family and more than ever, the Prince and Princess of Wales have a responsibility to ensure the monarchy remains relevant to the British public. In the face of an attack from one of their own, that’s not easy but if they continue to follow outdated strategies and old playbooks, doing this will be impossible.

By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ.