Public hounding of Kate Middleton pushed her to share health news she shouldn't have had to. Was that really our end game?

Public hounding of Kate Middleton pushed her to share health news she shouldn’t have had to. Was that really the end game?

Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton, The Princess of Wales has revealed this morning through Kensington Palace that she is undergoing treatment for cancer.

After months of intense global speculation, Middleton presented a moving video message explaining that after undergoing major abdominal surgery in January, thought to be non-cancerous, the disease was in fact later detected and she has since been advised by medical professionals to undertake chemotherapy which she is now in the early stages of.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. 

As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be ok.”

Through the message, it is clear that Kate is fraught. Her voice cracks as she mentions her family and managing her diagnosis in a way that’s best for them.

Because of course, the world’s reaction has meant she has not been afforded the chance to truly do that.

For months, the media, paparazzi and indeed everyday citizens have hounded Kate Middleton and the Royal Family into providing more information about her absence. Wild conspiracy theories including her running away, an untimely death and being trafficked have followed.

According to BrandMentions, a business that monitors the proliferation of hashtags and keywords online, the hashtags #whereiskate #katebodydouble and #katemiddleton have been used on social media accounts and webpages with a total reach of 400 million people, as measured by factors such as account followers.

The hashtags were mentioned 5,400 times across Instagram and TikTok. Posts with those hashtags have been shared 2.3m times and liked 2.2m times.

The obsession with Middleton simply taking some time out from her duties has been just as disturbing as it’s been absurd.

Any rational person would have observed the situation and assumed that the family was experiencing something private such as a health condition. Yet, any shred of compassion or empathy seemed to leave the building in our frenzy for information.

Even when footage showed Middleton walking outside a farm shop in Windsor with William last week, the chaos continued. In fact, the proof of her very “alive” status kicked things into overdrive. US celebrity news channel, TMZ poured fuel on the fire when its hosts supported speculation that the video was fake.

“The thing is there are now people picking this apart and they’re saying it’s fake. They don’t believe it, they don’t believe it’s Kate,” Harvey Levin said.

His co-host Charles Latibeaudiere said the points critics had brought up on social media regarding “Fake Middleton” are valid.

“They have looked at every detail of this woman head to toe literally, and it’s not matching up for them,” he said.

Sub-human treatment

Imagine being Kate, a woman with three young children, navigating a cancer diagnosis through this kind of intense scrutiny? How do we reconcile that this is the way we handle these kinds of stories?

Because yes, while the royal family is a public entity, it is still comprised of real humans with very real human issues.

In light of this latest media storm, are we really surprised that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to throw the towel in on royal life?

As for Kate and William’s children, they are very much collateral damage in this whole equation. While they’re still young and innocent, they’re not young enough to walk past a news stand and ignore tabloid conspiracies about their mum. They’re not young enough to avoid TV news or perhaps social media feeds. What must this experience have been like for them?

Meanwhile, for Kate, an already emotional time has likely been exacerbated tenfold by our relentless pursuit for information that wasn’t ours to know– at least, not over the past three months.

Kate finished her message by saying: “I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits.”

Let’s hope we can all back off enough for her to continue focusing on these things that matter. A reminder: That’s not us.

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