Install the Royals on Instagram

There’s no reason Meghan Markle can’t be a princess and be on social media at the same time.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 12: Meghan Markle smiles as she shares a joke with Prince Andrew during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 12, 2018 in London, England. Organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Grover - Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle smiles at Westminster Abbey on March 12 in London.
WPA Pool/Getty Images

Most 27-year-olds are all about Instagram, but Princess Eugenie isn’t most 27-year-olds. With the recent surprise coronation of her account on the platform—it currently boasts three pictures, a video, and more than 21,000 followers—the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson became the first member of the British royal family to join the social network.

Careful royal watchers will recall that Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Eugenie’s cousin Prince Harry, quit Instagram, along with Facebook and Twitter, earlier this year. A royal source told ABC News at the time, “Ms. Markle is grateful to everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years. However, as she has not used them for some time she has taken the decision to close them.” But this explanation left out the most likely reason that Markle surrendered her accounts: discretion. The royals do not dirty their hands with such pixel-drenched things, instead preferring to leave their social networking to the palace staff, who are in charge of maintaining official accounts. The royals are like old-school movie stars in this way; Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts ain’t on Instagram, and neither is the queen. By deleting her profiles, Markle was signaling her willingness to play by the royal family’s rules—and affect its above-it-all posture.

Then why does Eugenie get to have an Instagram? Is this not a silk-gloved slap in the face to her future cousin-in-law, who sacrificed her account (which was very fun and where she could be seen hanging out with gal pal Priyanka Chopra) to get in good with grandma? As a born royal, Eugenie may have a little more leeway than Markle, who will be a royal by marriage. Maybe we should let Eugenie have this one thing—after all, next to former Hollywood actress Markle, just about anyone would be found wanting for glamour and novelty. Still, different rules for different family members, even if the rules aren’t official policies so much as suggestions, seems like a recipe for familial strife. And the royal family has had more than enough of that over the years. What happened to this being a new, more relaxed generation of royals, where members aren’t subjected to a stifling array of protocols that lead only to bad feelings and despair?

The best, and only, solution is to let the royals be on social media and run their own accounts. Let Eugenie keep her Instagram, and let Meghan Markle join up again too. They say they want to modernize the crown? This is the way to do it. There’s no need to make existing and new members of the royal family obey a digital omertà anymore, if there ever was. Letting them lead their own lives and make their own choices hasn’t sullied the monarchy any more than not doing so for centuries arguably did. Markle has already shown that she had a natural flair for social media, and Kate “Wisteria Sister” Middleton seems like she would be a quick study with shots of pastoral domestic bliss. It would be (relatively) harmless—with some media training to keep them, ahem, reined in—and it would give them something to do. The royal family’s main responsibility is to be ambassadors, so let them … ambassadate. Let them influence. And then watch the likes role in: Now that’s diplomacy.

Heather Schwedel is a Slate staff writer.