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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK


One's own webzine

The Duke of York proves he is a dab-hand online

Like New Labour before them, the Royal Family knows modernising is key to its survival.

Prince Andrew mentions that he is a BBC News Online user: Watch raw footage from the launch of 'Royal Insight'
Which explains why it is boosting its Internet presence with a new online magazine.

Bar the odd Hollywood starlet and "at home" with whoever from EastEnders, the royal webzine could almost be Hello! online.

With a plethora of colour photographs of the Windsors at work, diary engagements and an interactive feature, this is a serious effort to reach out and feel the pulse of 1990s Britain.

There's even a nod to frivolity with a "cut-out-and-keep" Gold State Coach. (It has to be printed first.)

[ image: The site features a first-hand account by the Princess Royal]
The site features a first-hand account by the Princess Royal
The Duke of York - said to be the Windors' most experienced Net user - launched the monthly magazine at an Internet café on, suitably, Buckingham Palace Road.

With camera flashes popping, Prince Andrew settled into a rattan chair in front of a terminal and set about logging on to the new site.

At first he got a "retry" command, but the prince was unruffled.

The huddle of twenty-something itinerants who were busy checking their Hotmail accounts at adjacent computers, kept equally as cool about sharing space with this well known fellow Web surfer.

It was second time lucky for Andrew, who once in the site, sat back and somewhat nonchalantly pushed the mouse around, clicking through the various pages for the press.

The Prince said he was particularly fond of the interactive question-and-answer section, which allows users to e-mail a royal-related question and see it answered the following month.

[ image: It aims to follow the success of the first royal Website]
It aims to follow the success of the first royal Website
And he even gave BBC News Online a royal seal of approval.

"I use the FT or the BBC for news on current affairs as a method of information but I don't get a chance to surf it," he said.

Returning to the new site, he said: "I am very impressed. This is something we should have done some time ago.

"This is something that can only go from strength to strength and I can see more of these being set up."

The launch of Royal Insight comes two years after the Royal Family first went online, with the British Monarchy website. Since then it has doubled its pages from 250 to 500 and claims to pull in three to four million "accesses" per week (although this offers limited insight as to how many people use it).

But whereas that site is more for reference purposes, the new magazine will update every month.

[ image: Prince Charles has his own Internet site]
Prince Charles has his own Internet site
It is broken down into several sections, such as "gallery online", "diary", "mailbox" and "focus", which takes an in-depth look at the work of the royals. Issue one has an article by the Princess Royal about the Royal Trust for Carers, of which she is president.

The site has been built by the Press Association, which is responsible for maintaining the Prince of Wales's personal Website. Editorial control rests with the Buckingham Palace press office.

Its design is clear and uncluttered and pages are quick to download. Photographs can be enlarged and the search engine, which is already up and running, will come into its own a few months down the line.

Some pages will carry audio links although there are no plans for the time being to use video.

Editor David Tuck, of the Buckingham Palace Press Office, said: "We have tried to make sure that this site is as accessible as possible and it is the first time we have had an interactive page."

It might not have the spice and bare-all quality of Hello!, but Royal Insight shows that one of Britain's oldest institutions is managing to show a thoroughly modern face.

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