My early childhood memories are of my grandfather narrating fairytales at bedtime. These tales, sometimes, were the tales of Kings, Czars, Sultans, Nawabs, Maharajas and the brave Queens of Rajputana. We were greatly awed by the stories of Queen Elizabeth I and the Nizam’s of Hyderabad and that of the bravery of Rani of Jhansi. Being an expert story teller, he enthralled us with the bravery and pomp of the royals of different parts of the world.
On being confronted why the royalty across the world is fast vanishing, he would philosophically console us that in the emerging democracies only five Kings/Queens would survive, four of the playing cards and the fifth- the royals of Britain. The last century had seen the downfall of many great royals and the emergence of dictators who had overthrown the royals in the name of democracy.
Thirty years back, as a school student, I was amongst the 750 million viewers from across the globe viewing the TV coverage of the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. I was so obsessed with the British royalty, I remember tearing and carrying home the central pages of a prominent weekly from my school library, which carried fascinating pictures of the royal wedding.
The words of my grandfather- fondly called ‘Abbu’- about the survival of the British royals haunts my mind. What I understand is the reason of their survival is their art of adjusting with the trends of prevailing times. The only known gloomy days on the British royalty was during their strained relationship with Diana, and the aftermath of the untimely death of Diana in a car accident in France.
Being smart and adept in surviving the era of onslaught of the democratic storms, the British royals have always kept themselves a step ahead of the changing times. As a precursor of the wedding between Prince William, the eldest son of Diana, with Kate Middleton, a commoner, the royals and the groom used all modern technologies to reach to the people in every nook and corner of the world by using all social means- Facebook, YouTube, twitter, Flicker and even their official website was used to their advantage in publicising the royal wedding and creating an environment of curiosity.
The royals chose to announce the engagement of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on Prince Charles’ twitter account six months prior to the wedding, with the sole purpose to encourage social media to become a part of the royal hullabaloo.
The official website for the royal wedding had carried an eye catching photo of the engaged couple, clicked by renowned photographer Mario Testino, who had the privilege to shoot some of the remarkable and historic snaps of Princess Diana. The twitter account was regularly updated with information of the wedding preparations with accompanying photos.
The royal wedding has become the first one releasing its music online on iTunes within hours of the wedding, and the vows of the wedding couple would be released in CD’s by the end of the first week of May. With due permission from Prince William, YouTube livestreamed the wedding along with the Royal Channel, whose viewership crossed more than a billion across the globe.
Middle East being in storm of the democratic movements was also used by the royals for their advantage. In spite of the British Prime Minister, David Cameroon’s magnanimity in accepting the error on part of the British Government in believing that Muslims can’t manage democracy during his visit to Cairo after the downfall of Hosni Mobarak, the royals first issued and then withdrew their invite to the ambassador of Syria, citing the repressive measures by the Assad’s regime to quell the democratic movement, after sensing the high rate of criticism in human rights watchers in UK and its coverage in media.
With their clever moves, the royal family, which has been known for its traditional moves since time immemorial, has decided to follow the principle of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ perfectly in consonance of the demand and necessity of becoming part of the new media and that makes them to survive with changing times.
(The writer is Secretary, Peoples’ Integration Council and Member, National Integration Council, Government of India)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.