- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle created an Instagram account on Tuesday, which quickly amassed 3.5 million followers.
- An Instagram user named Kevin Keiley, however, complained that the couple’s Instagram handle, @sussexroyal, used to be his. He is now @_sussexroyal_.
- Keiley, who lives in West Sussex, said he found out about the switch in a message from his son.
- Instagram defended reassigning the handle on the grounds that Keiley’s account was inactive.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new Instagram account has reached 3.5 million followers since the couple first posted on Tuesday.
The duo have already treated fans to a personal message signed by them on the social-media site, as well as some behind-the-scenes photos. But now news has emerged that their Instagram handle, @sussexroyal, was taken from another user and given to the royals without his permission.
The BBC News interviewed a man named Kevin Keiley who said the handle previously belonged to him.
It reportedly reflected his love of the soccer team Reading FC – nicknamed the Royals – and the fact that he lived in West Sussex.
Keiley, who the BBC said had the account for three years, said he found out his handle was taken from him and replaced with @_sussexroyal_ in a text message.
“I got a jokey text from my son which said ‘Ha ha, I see your handle has gone then,'” he told the BBC.
“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.”
Keiley said neither Instagram nor the royals contacted him about the change.
Though he apparently didn’t post often, Keiley said he used the account to like other people’s posts.
Instagram confirmed to BBC Newsbeat that replacing Keiley’s handle was in line with a policy allowing the site to make changes to an account that has been inactive for a certain amount of time.
“An account is determined to be inactive based on a number of things, including the date the account was created and whether the account has been sharing photos, commenting on photos, liking photos and logging in,” the guidelines on Instagram’s Help Center say.
He told the BBC he had the same Twitter handle – which he said he was not willing to give up.
“I can tell you that Twitter’s gone mental,” he said. “I used to have four followers and in 24 hours I’ve gone up to about 198.
“What I’m trying to do is keep tweeting therefore they can’t take it if it’s active. I don’t know what the royals are planning down the line.”
This is the original and only Sussexroyal. We talk about supporting Reading FC
— Kevin Keiley (@jklaak13) April 3, 2019
Many fans speculated that the couple would create their own Twitter account after they were cut out of Kensington Palace’s official Twitter photo. They used to share the account with Prince William and Kate Middleton but have since broken away to form their own royal entity.
Keiley said that if they were interested in his Twitter handle, he wanted the royals to come to him first this time.
“Hello Harry and Meghan,” he said. “If you do want my Twitter account as well, can you at least have the decency to speak to me?”
Keiley hasn’t used Instagram since his handle was changed. He said he would probably use it again one one day, but, he said, “I don’t think I’ll be following the royals.”
Kensington Palace has declined to comment.
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