Yesterday's announcement that the Queen would today "join" Facebook was a gift to online pedlars of weak topical humour. You immediately knew that you would be overwhelmed by people pontificating on the likely consequences of "poking" the Queen, or constructing fictitious status updates that featured the words "one's corgis".
But the Queen hasn't joined Facebook, not really. Despite the image of her hunched over a laptop to "add Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as a friend" being rather compelling, the truth is more prosaic; the Palace has simply established a new way of disseminating updates on the monarchy's activities. So, if the Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception, we'll be able to "like" it, even if we can't attend it.
It's a nice coup for Facebook. But while it could be seen as royal approval for the world's biggest social-media website, it's really more of a realisation that most institutions, services and marketable entities had a long time ago. Facebook has built the best infrastructure for keeping people up-to-date with what you're doing, and it's as useful a publicity tool for the British monarchy as it would be for anyone else. The only surprise is that it hasn't been done sooner.
Having a Facebook presence is not without problems, however. No fewer than seven Queens are already there under the name "Elizabeth Windsor" – straplines like "I am the Queen of the United Kingdom" make them the least convincing royal imposters since Lambert Simnel. In fact, there's already a Facebook page with the same title as the official one – The British Monarchy – which now contains feverish postings from confused subjects who believe it's the real thing.
But hey, that's social media: a bunch of people randomly hammering on their computer keyboards. Brace yourself, your Majesty.Reuse content