Japan’s famously conservative imperial family has announced that it is starting an Instagram account.

Direct Updates from the Japanese Imperial Family

In April 2023, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako began their own Imperial Household website, posting updates from recent engagements. From April 1, the family will add an Instagram account to its online roster.

The account will provide a way for members of the public to stay up-to-date with the royal family’s affairs and functions, sharing photos to start. It marks the emperor and empress’s first ever foray into the world of social media, bringing them closer to their contemporaries across the globe.

Emperor Naruhito with Prince William

Other Royal Accounts Around the World

From progressive royal families in Europe, such as King Frederik and Queen Mary in Denmark, through to more conservative monarchs like the British royal family, social media sites have become an increasingly valuable tool to keep their subjects and interested parties up-to-date with their daily lives and public activities.

The British royal family is among the most popular royal households in terms of social media. On Instagram, King Charles and Queen Camilla have over 13 million followers, whom they post to on an almost daily basis, using the handle “theroyalfamily.” Crown Prince and Princess, William and Kate also run a popular Instagram account with high engagement, sometimes with thousands of comments on their posts.

Imperial Content

It’s likely that the Japanese imperial family will take a similar approach to Charles and Camilla in terms of content. Currently, the British royal family posts images of functions and events, showing its members out in public and interacting with their subjects.

While social media is can be a convenient tool for royal families, it isn’t without its disadvantages and may be bent to the will of the public in extreme cases. William and Kate recently entered a media storm after posting a doctored photo onto their Instagram page, enduring conspiracy theories and a whirlwind of rumors, before Kate appeared in a video message to announce that she had tested positive for cancer.

In Japan, social media users are known for being brutal under the shroud of anonymity, so it’s assumed the Japanese imperial family will carefully curate what they post.

Japan's royal succession

The last New Year greeting of Emperor Akihito, before his resignation in 2019 | Michal Staniewski via Shutterstock

More About the Japanese Imperial Family

Japan’s imperial family is headed by its Emperor and Empress, Naruhito and Masako respectively. The family are not allowed to have a shared name, and are known mononymously while they are active.

At present, the heir to the throne can only be a male, which has drawn both criticism and concern from commentators, who are afraid that the family will die out due to a lack of male heirs.

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