The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Instagram: The First Hours analysed

At around 3.15pm on Tuesday 2 April 2019 the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle) released their official, verified Instagram account.

The account, marking an organisational shift from Kensington Palace, quickly caused Instagram to crash with the sheer volume of followers it received in such a short amount of time. From the moment the account was published, up until roughly 90 minutes later, I captured follower data minute-by-minute for the new @ SussexRoyal account to see how the royal couple’s first moments went.

UPDATE: As of 21.01 GMT (9.01pm UK time) the SussexRoyal account reached one million followers. Achieving this 5 hours 45 minutes after the account being posted, the royal Instagram now becomes the fastest account to ever reach 1,000,000 followers — beating the previous record by nearly six hours.

UPDATE 2: An accurate breakdown will be compiled for the 24 hour mark of the account being created, around 3.15pm GMT. This will more accurately reflect the makeup of followers, including a more representative breakdown of language spoken and countries of origin, and more in-depth figures on the types of accounts following — including ‘influencer’ accounts, real accounts, any potential fake or bot ‘spam’ accounts, and business accounts. This will also break down gender of followers more accurately, and provide a percentage of user engagement as a comparative against the total number of followers.

The Duchess of Sussex is no stranger to Instagram. Her previous accounts were beloved by millions of fans. Photograph by Benjamin Wareing.

Brief summary: In a quick, short analysis of the first hour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ Instagram, the account saw monumental growth in a short amount of time. In the first 23minutes, the account saw 103,000 followers. By the end of that hour, just short of 200,000 accounts followed the SussexRoyal account.

Around 1 hour 9minutes (69 minutes) after the account was launched, Instagram partially crashed, preventing most users from being able to follow the account on first clicking the follow button. Multiple social media users reported to me that they had to click the follow button multiple times over a period of minutes for the follow to ‘stick’ permanently. Prior to this partial crash, the account was receiving on average 7000 followers per minute sustainably. After the partial crash, it appears an algorithm limited the account growth to a strict 1300 followers per minute. One source inside Instagram tells me this limit was implemented to prevent a complete crash of the platform.

They said: “By placing a lowered cap on the following rate, as you noted around 1300 per minute, we can allow the account and platform to remain operational, and following to continue to rise, whilst avoiding a full crash and a halt in operations.

“From what I was seeing, the account could have easily seen around 10,000 followers per minute at sustained growth, but that just wasn’t possible so a cap seems necessary for the moment.”

A few milestones were reached by the account in quick succession shortly after the account went live, with the account reaching 100,000 followers at 15.38 (around 23 minutes after going live), 200,000 followers at 16.01 (46 minutes after going live), 250,000 at 16.15 (60 minutes after going live) and 500,000 — half a million — at around 18.35 (around 200 minutes after going live).

Through the data points captured by myself, monitoring the number of real-time followers per minute, a graph could be produced observing the SussexRoyal account growth.

At it’s recorded track, it was incredibly safe to predict the account would reach 1 million followers within 24 hours of going live; if a 1300 follower-per-minute cap remained, the new royal account would havelikely hit one million followers about 6 hours after initially posting this article (about midnight GMT). As the follow cap was removed, the account reached one million followers in 5 hours 45 minutes, around 9pm GMT.

In terms of the makeup of followers the @ SussexRoyal account had (as of 7pm on launch day), an audit released to me shows that 80% of followers were female or female identifying, while 20% were male or male identifying.

26% of followers come from the US, 19% from Brazil, 10% from UK, 7% from Italy and 3% from France.

56% of followers were Caucasian (white), with 21% being Hispanic, 10% African, 6% Asian, 5% Indian, and 2% of followers being Arabian.

Around 63% of the accounts followers speak English, with the second highest language being Portuguese at 14% of followers. It is worth noting the account was published at 3pm UK time (GMT) where potential followers may have just left school or work for the day, whilst those in Asian or American regions may be asleep or still in work or school during the announcement being made.

63% of the followers mainly focused on beauty and fashion on the social media, whilst 55% of followers focused on art and design and 47% focused on children and families.

Shortly after royal reporter Omid Scobie tweeted about the announcement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ account saw a 25,000 rise in followers. In the aftermath of royal reporter Chris Ship tweeting about the news, the account saw a similar rise of about 25,000 followers.

The first post produced by the account features a selection of photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during previous engagements, including during engagements in Australia for the Invictus Games, Africa, and the UK. It was captioned: “Welcome to our official Instagram’ we look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the causes we support, important announcements, and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues. We thank you for your support, and welcome you to @SussexRoyal.” with the post being signed off personally by “Harry and Meghan”.

The account’s creation comes just a few weeks before the Duchess of Sussex is due to give birth to her first child, with the announcement being made in October last year. The royal couple’s first child will become seventh in line to the throne.

You can keep up to date with my royal photography, news and analysis on my Twitter: @BenjaminWareing or Instagram: @BritishJourno.