Friday, January 11, 2019

Luxarazzi in Limbo: What the Heck Is Going On With Royal Watching?

How long have you been reading Luxarazzi? Right from the start sometime all the way back in 2009? Or was it the wedding of Guillaume and Stéphanie that brought you here? Or Félix and Claire? Or maybe it was your love for history? For jewellery? For royal fashion? Whatever it was that brought you here in the first place, we are very lucky with our loyal readership. It's a nice little place on the world wide web. A lot has changed in the past ten years though; we, your writers here at Luxarazzi, and also Luxarazzi itself. We always tried to model this blog to fit our own interests and increasingly busy schedules and also your interests - but for how long we will feel like continue doing that, I just don't know.

In the last few days, we were sadly reminded that the world of royal watching around us has also changed in the past ten years. And not for the better, I might add. One of our own, Heaven who provides us with great insight into wardrobes of the Luxembourg and Liechtenstein ladies, and her fellow writers at UFO No More were right in the middle of this. 

Their annual post on the worth of the wardrobe of several royal ladies has garnered widespread attention. After lengthy discussions with Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan and the Office of Queen Rania, they decided to no longer include her in the list. The information published in previous years had been used against her to criticise Queen Rania. While the writers at UFO No More always clearly stated that they simply published the numbers the new pieces worn that year were worth, others simply took the number and stated for a fact that this was the money a royal lady had spent on their wardrobe. (Just to be clear: There's a difference as royals may lend clothes or get hefty discounts.) 

While nobody would have probably ever talked about the matter again because it had been a year since the numbers were published, the Hashemite Royal Court made sure that the controversy was in everyone's mouth at the beginning of this year, when they issued a press release stating that the numbers were never true and simply made up. Even if Queen Rania didn't actually pay as much for her wardrobe as it is worth according to the retail prices because she borrowed the clothes or got them at reduced prices, maybe she and the people surrounding her should also think about the message she sends wearing usually expensive designer clothes - even if acquired at a lower rate - while being the wife of a head of state of a developing nation.

I do not live in a bubble. I realise that what you write about a royal or a famous person on the internet can have consequences in real life for them, especially when your website garners the attention of the wide-spread media. We have been there with Luxarazzi and while we generally have a good relationship with the cour grand-ducale, they weren't always in favour of all the things we published. And that's fine. In the end, they are a PR outlet for the Grand Ducal Family. We are part of a new form of media and media isn't a PR outlet. We both have every right to exist. Luckily, both Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are free and democratic countries - so we are free to share our opinions and agree to disagree with what the Grand Ducal and Princely Families do. While we generally try to keep the tone light, we always try to make sure to give a balanced view on things.

All of this, however, isn't the reason that I feel like Luxarazzi is in a limbo and cannot predict where we are heading. Instead, it was the reaction by many on social media and elsewhere to the Rania drama and the numbers published for the Duchess of Sussex that just wants us - as I am pretty certain that I can also speak for the other people behind Luxarazzi here - to leave the royal watching world behind. I know that it is probably a byeffect of social media, echo chambers and filter bubbles but when have we lost the ability the process information that does not fit our own narrative? When did we lose the ability to agree to disagree? How boring is live in an echo chamber? Living in a filter bubble, where everyone thinks the same way as you do, will never challenge you and help you to grow and see things from another point of view even if you don't agree.

Yet, when UFO No More published the numbers for 2018, especially some parts of the followerbase of the Duchess of Sussex jumped at the throats of the writers over at UFO No More. Many people even seem insistent that there must be some great conspiracy behind all of it to put Meghan in her place, that the numbers were simply published to tear her down. Do you realise that UFO No More has published the same kind of post even before Meghan came onto the scene? It seems hard to understand to some but there was royal watching well before Meghan. The same people also do not seem to be able to grasp that not every information published about a royal that isn't glowingly praising them is criticism. If anything, if the circumstance that Meghan's wardrobe of 2018 was worth more than that of other royals and the publication of the fact rubs you the wrong way, it is probably a sign that you think that her number is, in fact, too high.

If you care to read the full articles published by UFO No More, you will see that it doesn't include any opinions whatsoever on the numbers. So all opinions and criticisms are projections by the readers. As a blog or website, you do not have control over what others do with the information you provide.  You can take almost any information and make them fit your narrative. A royal is not a celebrity. Monarchy and royalty in 21st century should not not be an end in itself. People are allowed to question and people are allowed to chose. Royals have to navigate the challenges of today, whether criticism is constructive or unfounded. I don't envy them but to deny people to publish researched facts just to raise the pedestal on which a royal is put negates important discussions and reflections - and ultimately growth. 

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