Friday, September 27, 2013

Trine Villemann: Amalienborg Is Afraid of Facebook: Danish Royals On the Losing End of Social Media: Big PR Fail From Mary and the Gray Men

"Just getting back from a top brass party with friends, pricey frocks and gravy boats, eek! Got an audience in the morning, so I better get some shut eye. Hugs and kisses, M."
Tell 'em, Trine! Our good friend Trine Villemann (of 1015 Copenhagen K  - now available on Kindle - and wife of Malcolm Brabant, author of the fantastic e-book Malcolm Is a Little Unwell) is on fire with her column at Politiken. Here she rails against the royals' choice to not use social media to buttress its popularity and meaningfulness to the Danish people.

Poor Daisy. She understands so well the importance of ceremony and performance - all the theatrical aspects of a monarchy! Big hats, big galas, loads of diamonds, lots of waving from balconies, summer cruises to the outer reaches of the kingdom, silly titles for the landed gentry, lots of blue elephant ribbons, carriages, staff photographers, grand portraiture, positive relationships with uncritical, sugary friends in the media. But lost in all of that glamour is the real world and how we are all communicating with each other, and forging our own brands and connecting on several levels through several web programmes. Daisy's missing a big one here. The Norwegian royal house has a wonderful FB feed that includes the whole family down to Milly Kakao the dog, and Mette-Marit controls her own information on her Twitter account. They are great examples of combining professionalism with social outreach.

The Danish royal house continues to allow itself to be anachronistic by allowing cobwebs to grow around it. And yet poor Fred had a Facebook account, albeit under a pseudonym. One of the great ironies of "young, dynamic, modern" Mary Donaldson is that she of all people should be urging the court to use social media carefully and judiciously, but as time goes on, she herself appears in the court-Photoshopped photographs as older than her years and more and more out of touch, as with her recent, ridiculous interview with Australian Women's Weekly. In other words, the longer the Danish royals go without engaging in social media, the more out of touch they are with the very people they supposedly represent. Added insult to the fact that their future queen doesn't even like them and focuses her gaze exclusively on Australia and bigger media markets than little Denmark. Get on FB and kick Mary out of the family, Dais!

Column: Politiken

Amalienborg Fears Facebook

About 3 million Danes are on Facebook, and for a time Crown Prince Frederik was one of them.
He was hiding under the name of Jens Peter Hansen and had far fewer than 100 friends, but His Royal Highness disappeared less than 48 hours after the undersigned - Facebook - had spread the message that we were able to add our next king as a friend.

The crown prince should never enjoy any of that.Representatives of many of the top ranks have since accused me of unsportsmanlike behaviour because I revealed the crown prince's secret profile.
I maintain, however, that it was His Royal Highness  who turned out to be a lousy athlete at the prompt to pull out of the community in which he for once really had the chance to get in touch with some of the souls
one day he will rule over.

But such is the style of the residents at Amalienborg. One does not communicate. They disclose themselves - through the court's website.

It is a strategy that has long since been allowed to die off among many of our European neighbours.
The Dutch, English, Swedish and Norwegian royal families are accustomed to social media.

In Norway, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit have put themselves out there and with such success that the royal couple's profiles on both Facebook and Twitter have been expanded to include King Harald and Queen Sonja.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit also has her own personal Twitter account, where she busily brings together people, ideas and organisations.Swedish Carl Gustaf, who this year celebrates 40 years on the throne, also lurked and got the advantages of speaking directly to his people via social media.

The Swedish people have polls showing declining enthusiasm for their king, after a book in 2010 revealed him as a womaniser who partied at Stockholm nightclubs with shady elements that certainly do not appear in the Swedish nobility calendar.

The castle has responded by carpet bombing the roughly 105,000 that follow the royal family's Facebook page with updates and photos of an apparently busy and dutiful majesty who troops up to both the library openings and scout gatherings.

It is of course impossible to determine whether the Swedish court's targeted efforts have been weeded out the number of Republicans, but it shows at least that Margrethe's cousin on the other side of the Sound and - not least - his advisers, understood that they had a problem and that social media was one of the tools that could be used to solve it.

I have asked the court's communications director Lene Balleby why it has taken this approach, and got the following response:

"That the Danish royal family are not on Facebook and Twitter at the moment is a conscious choice. We naturally follow the evolution of social media, but have so far given priority to focus on the dissemination of the royal family's duties via the new website, and in the spring we launched an app."

Some royal experts believe that it is the right way to be a royal family here in 2013. Historian Sørensen argues that one of the reasons for the Danish monarchy's popularity is that it has managed to keep alive the story of the royal adventure by staying away from social media.It is a fallacy about the size of Prince Consort's French vineyards, and apart from Hovbakke and Her Majesty the Queen is shown no longer someone who believes that the Royals are demigods.

A royal house does not stand or fall, of course, depending whether you are on Facebook and Twitter, but it is tremendously regressive of them to select from when a single update can reach at least a hundred times as many people as the royal couple's meetings on one of the Royal Yacht Dannebrog's annual summer cruises.

It is not about that distance that creates respect for tradition - on the contrary. The tradition is in danger of losing respect because it managed in a way that is less and less impact on its foundation: the Danes.

We have a queen who will not have cell phones within her doors, and a crown prince who is almost sewn to his smartphone.

Somewhere in this field of tension, it should be possible to create a conversation with those of us who still have confidence in the Constitutional Act, the form of government in Denmark that is 'limited monarchy'.

And in today's Denmark, we talk to each other - for better or worse - through social media.Amalienborg's problem, of course, is that the conversations in this universe can not be controlled, which is the real reason why the Danish royal family these past few years has turned a blind eye to today's biggest and most important communication tool.

It is not so much that the royal family feels too genteel toward social media. It's more that they simply fear it. Amalienborg is afraid of Facebook and the voice of the people, for imagine if it were critical?

We have a monarchy that works with its own preservation in a century in which modern man eventually find it difficult to understand the meaning that a single family fed for so many privileges without having to give much back, but should a royal family not
be able to also endure the less positive comments on the social media?

In my eyes it is a worrying weakness in the Danish democracy that our head of state has opted out of the dialogue with her people and hides behind her website's one-way communication.

It is a monarchy-like behaviour that neither clothes the monarch or the modern democracy in what she is supposed to represent.

1 comment:

  1. For me this is a big mistake. Social media is the way. They can control their message with it and get closer to the people. Be more modern. Maybe Margrethe knows that Mary is the one who could not be controlled if she started Tweeting.