The British Royal family live life through a camera lens, and have their every movements and actions both scrutinised, analysed, and even predicted.
Sometimes this can lead to rabbit holes, and the birth of Harry and Meghan’s second child has again been met with wild fury and appetite – and in the publishers race to slake the thirst of readers, they’ve allowed a 301 redirect to make national headlines.
The Royal 301
The British Royal Family website is https://www.royal.uk, and for the most part it functions like any other Drupal website. They use Cloudflare, some JS libraries… It’s all very normal.
However, at the time of writing this article if you try and play with the URLs there are some oddities. If you go to royal.uk/princess-charlotte, you get the bio page of Princess Charlotte — and if you try a different name, for instance royal.uk/princess-penelope, you get a standard 404 page:
But if you try /prince-arthur, prince-james, or /prince-alexander as URL extensions you get 301 redirected to the /royal-family page:
This has lead a number of publications to spin headlines such as:
- Did the official Royal Family website just reveal Meghan Markle’s baby gender AND name?
- Meghan Markle’s Baby Name Potentially Revealed by the Royal Website in Major Flub
Taking an extract from Heart UK’s article covering the 301 redirect, the theories are clear through language they’ve used:
Online sleuths have discovered three pages on the Royal Family’s official website, which have been reserved for “Prince Arthur”, “Prince James” and “Prince Alexander” – a huge hint that these could be the expectant parents’ top three favourite names.
“Which have been reserved” is very interesting language, given that there can be a number of reasons to redirect a URL – but to “reserve it”, that’s a new one on me.
This theory has been played down by the Palace, with a spokesperson saying:
A large number of search terms redirects were set up on royal.uk some time ago in order to improve user experience.
Using Wayback Machine, we can see that /prince-arthur was first redirected in April 2018 (13 months ago) after first returning 404 codes and they have no record of the page returning a 200 status code.
/prince-james does the same (redirected in 2018), however no information exists for /prince-alexander.
Could This Be The Baby’s Name?
Yes, it could be – however if the game has been given away by a 301 redirect that was implemented 13 months ago then I suspect it’s more coincidence than fact.
I’d also imagine that the teams behind royal.uk would have implemented a 302 direct should the URLs be “reserved” and be used in later life.