Want to commemorate the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on your website or social media? Be careful before you add an image of the Queen. Here’s what you need to know.
With many businesses keen to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in social media posts and on their websites, it’s worth reviewing the rules around the use of images, and the specific rules relating to images of the Royal Family.
If you need an image of the Queen for a commemorative post on your website or social media, don’t simply grab one from the internet, because all images have rights attached to them regarding their usage.
There are also specific rules around the use of royal images. These have been temporarily relaxed to allow organisations to mark the Queens’ passing, permitting approved images of the Queen to be used to mark her demise. The rules specify that approved images can be used on “decorative and commemorative materials” – and that includes displays on social media or on your website.
The image must be accompanied by a phrase such as: “Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022”. It must also be in good taste, free from any form of advertisement, and carry no implication of royal custom or approval.
The rules around the use of the Royal Arms, the Queen’s Cypher and the Royal Crown have not been relaxed and you are not permitted to use these in any way. The prohibited images can be found here. You must also make sure you don’t use any images of other members of the Royal Family.
It’s important to note that the guidelines issued by the Lord Chamberlain’s office emphasise that any copyright issues associated with the use of the image must be settled with the copyright holder. That means you need to be sure you are licensed to use the image.
There are several types of license attached to the use of pictures, ranging from a rights-managed license (the most expensive option) down to creative commons licenses, which make images free to use as long as to credit the photographer or image maker. Read all about licenses and what they permit you to do with an image here.
The bottom line is, make sure you check copyright and usage permissions, stick to these, and pay for use of the image if required.
Official images of the Royal Family are available from royalimages.co.uk. All images bought from this site are protected by copyright and you have to make an application to use them for anything that would be deemed commercial – and commemorative use counts as commercial.
You can source royalty-free images from sites such as Pixabay, or Shutterstock, and you can search for Creative Commons images here.
If you have pictures you took yourself, be aware that you are not allowed to use images of the Queen visiting your premises or exhibition stand or being publicly involved with your goods or services, in anything that could be deemed to be advertising. Read more about that here.
When adding images to your website, remember to optimise them for SEO by changing the file name to something descriptive that Google will understand, such as queen_elizabeth.jpg – and make sure you add alt text to provide some context for the image.
We hope this guidance will help you mark this historic moment and pay your respects to the Queen without unwittingly stumbling into a copyright issue. If you need more help and advice on this, on optimising your images for SEO, or on any aspects of your online marketing, get in touch with us today and we’ll be pleased to help.