Prince William and Kate Middleton have been accused of purchasing Instagram bots for their social media account Kensington Royal in a new exposé by The New York Times. The article comes as many royal watchers have commented on an unspoken competition between the Cambridges and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — a rivalry that will come to a head as the Sussexes mark their return to the United Kingdom after stepping down as full-time royals this past January.

The article pointed to the fact that Harry and Meghan had higher engagement numbers and the fact that the Cambridges would often gain followers despite not posting content as two major clues that William and Kate had resorted to bot followers.

When Meghan Markle first joined the royal family, all four posted under one social media account, Kensington Royal. But that changed after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided split households in spring 2019.

As part of their separation, they created their own social media accounts under the name Sussex Royal.

“From its very first post, Harry and Meghan’s new Sussex account was distinct from @KensingtonRoyal — and seemed unmistakably the work of an Instagram veteran. It established a signature color palette (royal blue) and typography (a hybrid of caps-locked roman and lowercase italics). These kinds of personalized elements were absent from @KensingtonRoyal,” the article explained.

However, it though the account quickly gained followers, it consistently seemed to lag behind Kensington Royal.

This was a red flag for data analysts, who pointed out that nine out of the 10 most-liked pictures posted by either Kensington Royal or Sussex Royal featured the Sussex clan in some capacity. The only pictures that did not include Harry, Meghan, or Archie was a picture of Prince George and Princess Charlotte on their first day of school. It was ranked at number eight.

Sussex Royal also has substantially more likes — to the tune of nearly 14 million more. But it is not just likes where the redheaded prince and his former Suits actress wife came ahead. They also won substantially more comments.

“Harry and Meghan won [comments] by an even bigger margin: In the same time frame, their account received more than double the number of comments that @KensingtonRoyal did, despite @KensingtonRoyal laying claim, perpetually, to hundreds of thousands more followers,” the article noted.

That said, critics have pointed out that the Sussexes may also have more followers and engagement due to negative feedback, or “hate following.”

Buckingham Palace has not made any comments on the allegation of bot purchases. Should the accusations be true, it would be a violation of Instagram guidelines and could even get William and Kate banned from the platform.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what new name Harry and Meghan will choose for their social media accounts after being told by Queen Elizabeth that they must change their moniker. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the pair were slammed for their “spiteful” statement following the queen’s ban on the word “royal. “

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