|Framlingham Castle in Sheeran's home town,|
the castle referred to in the single
"Castle on the Hill"
On 13 December 2016, after a year long hiatus and social media break, Sheeran tweeted a picture and changed his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to a light blue, implying the release of a new album – each of Sheeran's previous albums were a single coloured background with a solid mathematical symbol. On 1 January 2017, Sheeran uploaded a video on social media websites which shows him holding a piece of paper with the words "New Music Coming Friday" written on it.
On 2 January 2017, he posted a 10-second video on Twitter and other social media showing what is assumed to be the cover design of his forthcoming album entitled ÷ (read as "divide") which was released 3 March 2017. The album debuted at number one in the UK, the US, Germany, Australia, Canada and other major markets. With first week sales of 672,000 it is the fastest selling album by a male solo artist in the UK, and third fastest in UK chart history behind 25 by Adele and Be Here Now by Oasis. It also had the biggest first week sales of 2017 in the US.
On 6 January, Sheeran released two singles, "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill"; the theme of the latter single is about Sheeran's upbringing in his home town of Framlingham in Suffolk, with the castle referring to Framlingham Castle. Following the release of these singles, Sheeran went on to co-host the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Scott Mills where it was inferred that he would possibly make an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2017. It was also during this show that Sheeran used a new Martin guitar that featured the ÷ logo (of his new album) on both the headstock and body of the acoustic guitar. Both singles went on to break the Spotify day one streaming record, with a combined total of over 13 million streams in 24 hours. On 13 January, "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill" entered the UK Singles Chart at number one and number two, the first time in history an artist has taken the top two UK chart positions with new songs.
The same day he also became the first artist to debut at number one and number two on the official German Single Charts. On 15 January, the songs debuted at number one and number two on the ARIA Singles Chart, the first time this has been achieved in the history of the Australian chart. On 17 January, "Shape of You" debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, while "Castle on the Hill" entered at number six; this made Sheeran the first artist ever to have two songs simultaneously debut in the US top 10.
On 26 January, Sheeran announced tour dates for the album ÷ in Europe, South America and North America from 17 March until 14 June 2017. On 17 February 2017, Sheeran released "How Would You Feel (Paean)". Though not an official single, the song peaked at number two in the UK.