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UK royal wedding embraces digital age

youtubeWe’re hours away from the UK’s royal wedding, a wedding that will have had the British organizers dusting down the fancy costumes and sending the royal carriage through the car wash (hopefully without the horses attached).

The wedding is all set to be the biggest single event (in terms of viewing figures) since the world went digital, and the royal family has been making full use of the new technology. Besides having the nuptials live streamed, the royal family has also been using Twitter, Facebook and Flickr – despite a recent survey by MSN showing that its readers would prefer the royals to use more “traditional means to get closer to their subjects.”

The world is, of course, a far different place to when William’s parents tied the knot at St. Paul’s back in 1981. The Internet was still many years away from becoming a part of our everyday lives, Amazon was just the name of a river and a rainforest, and Google sounded like a funny word (actually it still does a bit).

Although Charles and Diana’s wedding had a global television audience of some 750 million, Friday’s is expected to be in the region of a colossal two billion. Another 400 million or so will be watching online using the likes of YouTube, who will be live streaming the event.

The Californian-based company will cover everything, from the wedding procession through the streets of London to the marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey, culminating in the bit that usually sends the crowds into a frenzy: the traditional balcony kiss.

Yahoo will also be live streaming the event, courtesy of ABC News. According to an article by The Hollywood Reporter, Yahoo has had a lot of interest in the wedding. Yahoo Shine‘s vice president Jessica Jensen said that its coverage of the wedding had “already surpassed all records, and we’re sure tonight and tomorrow will bring new records….it has just caught fire.” Indeed, Yahoo’s special wedding coverage has received more than 80 million views, and its online guestbook has had more than 200,000 signatures, with many leaving comments for Kate and William – not that they’ll ever have time to sit down and read them though.

One thing modern technology can’t change, however, is the time difference. For Americans wanting to watch the coverage as it happens, it means either not going to bed, or getting up very early – the wedding service begins at 3am PT/6am ET.