The Real Reason Instagram Allowed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Steal Their Account Name From Another User

In case you missed it, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were accused of stealing a Sussex man’s Instagram account.

Last week, after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their official social media separation from Prince William and Kate Middleton with a new Instagram name, @sussexroyal. Following its introduction, the account broke a world record by gaining 1 million followers in under six hours, which also led Instagram to crash for a short period of time. The account continues to gain eyes and now has 4.3 million followers.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

That said, in the midst of the excitement, a Sussex man revealed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stole the account from him. According to the BBC, the account used to belong to Kevin Keiley, who secured the handle three years ago “because he supports Reading FC — nicknamed the Royals — and he lives in West Sussex.”

“I got a jokey text from my son which said ‘Ha ha, I see your handle has gone then,” Keiley told Radio 1 Newsbeat. “I thought ‘What’s that all about?’ He said ‘Look on Instagram’ so I looked on Instagram and suddenly my handle wasn’t @sussexroyal anymore, it was @_sussexroyal_. It had been taken,” he added.

How Instagram allowed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to steal Keiley’s handle

Being a royal certainly has its perks — especially when it comes to social media. Although Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren’t allowed to have their own personal accounts, they are allowed to take already existing accounts from users. How did they do it? They most likely had someone from their communications team — perhaps their new head of communications, Sara Latham — contact the social media platform to inquire about the handle.

Per Instagram’s help section, “if a username you want is being used by an account that seems inactive, you can choose an available version of the username.” The app suggests adding “periods, numbers, underscores, or abbreviations to help you come up with a username that’s not already in use.” However, as members of the royal family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t have to do either. Instead, they got to swoop in and take the name from an existing user.

According to reports, Instagram justified the move because Keiley’s account was considered inactive and confirmed to Newsbeat that, if an account is inactive for an amount of time (they did not reveal how much time), they can go in and change it. Keiley told the radio station that no one from Instagram or the royal family reached out before making the switch.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Twitter account

As of right now, Kevin Keiley still has access to his Twitter account, which is also named @sussexroyal. According to his profile, he joined with the username almost a decade ago. “What I’m trying to do is keep tweeting therefore they can’t take it if it’s active,” he told Newsbeat. “I don’t know what the royals are planning down the line,” he added.

However, since his conversation with the radio show, he has expressed some concern about his Twitter account and the negative attention he has received since revealing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are using his old Instagram handle.

“Due to the constant abuse I have been receiving I have made the decision to close this Twitter account. Should free it up nicely for anyone wanting the sussexroyal handle. Just to put the record straight I have never received a penny nor do I want anything,” he posted on Saturday, April 6th. “All I have ever asked is for an apology from Instagram. I continue to say I have nothing against Prince Harry or his family but that does not put people off the abuse,” he added.

Following his remarks, it appears he had a change of heart, as he continued to share status updates over the weekend. “If I stay will update profile picture as Alaska the dog as she was 8 years old yesterday,” he wrote before updating his profile picture.

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