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The Royal Family has an easy answer to current criticisms but it’s time to get snappy about it

As The Queen heads off for a few days of rest, she’d do well to zone out the noise. The decision of Her Majesty to take a break has descended, with predictable alacrity, into a messy debate about whether the Royal Family has an image crisis.

Queen Camilla usually takes a mini vacay around this time but in 2024, the optics are different. With The King restricting himself to private constitutional duties because of his cancer treatment and the Princess of Wales continuing to recuperate after major surgery, there are fewer photos of royals around than normal. Prince William is back to engagements after time off to care for Catherine and their children but the thirst remains.

And that’s where the Royal Family needs to get snappy. The modern world, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

Right now, the fact that we might not see a senior royal until Tuesday or possibly Wednesday has led to a frenzy of misery that would have you believe the throne is under as much threat as it was during the Wars of the Roses or the dark days of the reign of the first king called Charles. It isn’t. That’s just silliness. But the Royal Family has a potent tool to turn against this turgid tide with immediate effect. Its secret weapon? What it’s doing already, every day.

For the Royal Family is actually very busy. In reality, Princess Anne does most of the outward facing engagements of the House of Windsor. During the later years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, her elder brother was on her heels as a major ribbon cutter but it’s worth noting that a larger proportion of Charles’ duties in the run up to his accession were meetings and audiences behind palace doors.

Anne is still out and about, clocking up what seems to be thousands of engagements a week, criss crossing the UK before hopping on a plane to somewhere remote, doing it all over again, and then coming home. Usually to a rugby match where she is also patron of at least three things as well as a spectator.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are ploughing on. Anyone who’s analysed their engagements will note that both Edward and Sophie pack plenty of events into a day and, now that their children are older, both are near the top of the list for royals representing the UK overseas.

Then we have the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester who whirl their way around the country ticking all the right royal boxes by visiting cathedrals and opening volunteer centres. The Duke of Kent might be slowing down but he hasn’t stopped completely. The man who has spent eight decades on duty is still engaging in engagements.

The issue for the Royal Family is that no one actually sees this work. Admit it, we’re all chasing box office. For many, royalty equals the big four. However, it’s much more than that. We can’t only blame ourselves. Even the official social media account of Buckingham Palace often fails to mention these engagements. If they do get a nod, it’s invariably several days after it has happened. And that seems to be a big problem that’s easy to resolve almost immediately for a family now being accused, rather unfairly, of not being front and centre.

There are plenty of engagements going on and the royal ship most certainly hasn’t sailed into dock while someone counts its barnacles. It’s doing pretty much what it always did. Ramping up the representation on socials of all these engagements would quickly dispel the now accepted wisdom that the Windsors have ground to a halt.

Let’s see the Princess Royal doing what she does when she does it. I expect there is no one in this world who would like Anne becoming the social media star of the Windsors less than the princess herself but then there’s also no one else as loyal to her dynasty as the King’s only sister. And right now, being a lot more visible feels like a sensible option and we all know how much Anne likes sensible.

While we’re at it, snaps of the Edinburghs and the Gloucesters being busy – which they are a lot – would show that the stage is far from bare.

In fact, it would show just how much good work the Royal Family is doing. Just a few weeks ago, the Princess Royal made a really important visit to an anti knife crime initiative in Northampton. She was clearly moved and impressed by the vital work she saw going on there. It got a quick nod on the royal socials but this was a big story and not just because Anne seemed emotional. It highlighted an amazing social development to stop something that wrecks lives and communities. It has resonance far beyond the place it happened.

And in some ways, it seems like a perfect example of how the Royal Family just don’t make enough of the great stuff they are doing every single day. Even Prince William’s visit to Wales on St. David’s Day ended up being a handful of photos that didn’t even touch the surface of what had been going on.

In recent years, the world has changed. Often, social media is cited as the reason. In a royal landscape where a photo taken that morning has been shared millions of times before lunch and is boring by teatime, there is an almost insatiable thirst for something new. As we know, it doesn’t have to be right and, as in recent days, it doesn’t have to be true or even tasteful. It just has to be posted and available to scroll.

There’s no point chasing that tail. But there does seem a very real opportunity now, in these tricky times that the Windsors have run into, to change things in a positive way. Social media is going nowhere. So embrace it. There’s a willing audience of millions waiting for a post, so give it to them. Four times a day and double that on Sundays. It’s an open goal.

The Royal Family has a plethora of material at their fingertips and a month of showing them out and about would work wonders. The 21st century isn’t a place where you can wait for the world to come to you.

Bizarrely, I can imagine Queen Mary, now the byword for royal fustiness, being straight on the socials. Along with King George V, she knew the power of positive PR and did a lot to bring her Royal Family into the changing world she experienced. Likewise, the Queen Mother. History may remember her as a lovely old lady draped in pastels, smiling sweetly at anyone and everyone, but she knew that you had to change with the times, not expect the times to change for you.

We’ve reached another moment where royals need to change. Take those millions of followers and entertain them, every single day. You get to set the agenda, you get to show what you want to show. And yes, people will take it and alter it to suit themselves. But they’re doing that already. Right now, the main story is how the royals are fading to nothing and doing nothing when in reality there are dozens of engagements lined up in the days ahead already. To not shout that out loud seems a rather bizarre lifestyle choice.

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