Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: Public figures are entitled to kindness, not conspiracies

Ricky Wilson via Wikimedia Commons
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus (April 2014).

From wild rumors to a wide variety of jokes, social media took the “disappearance” of Catherine, Princess of Wales, too far. While conspiracy theories can seem harmless at first glance, Kate Middleton’s case proves just how damaging they can be.

Kensington Palace released a statement to the public Jan. 17 declaring that the Princess of Wales had been admitted to the hospital for a “planned abdominal surgery,” but it had gone well and would be going home within two weeks. They also requested privacy and stated she would likely not return to her royal duties until March 31.

They updated the public on Jan. 29 that she had returned home, keeping in line with their previous estimate. This seemed to subdue the public until Feb. 27, when Prince William canceled a planned event due to a “personal matter.” This created several rumors and conspiracies about where the princess may have gone.

People speculated that she was in a coma, that she and William were divorcing and that William had cheated on her with Rose Hanbury, among other many unruly theories. 

After the internet began to flood with these theories, a photo came out of Kate and her mother in a car, which the Palace stated was not approved to be taken. However, the public considered this even less of an indication of Kate’s status. The car seemed to have too many wheels, which people assumed meant the photo was doctored.

On Mother’s Day in the UK, a photo of Princess Kate and her children was shared on her and Prince William’s X account. However, a few hours after it was posted, the photo was “killed” by major news sites, including the Associated Press and Reuters. They stated the image had been “manipulated.”

Many people online found multiple inconsistencies in the photo, such as potentially unmatched shoes, crossed limbs and other factors that indicated it seemed AI-generated or photoshopped. Then, Kate issued an apology, stating this was her attempt at editing as an “amateur photographer.”

What should have been the end of the rumors came in the form of a video, showing Princess Kate and Prince William walking through a farm shop together on March 18. TMZ confirmed that it had been taken in Windsor that day, to ensure that the public knew the video was legitimate.

People still did not believe this. However, they speculated about many rumors, including that it was a body double or the video was taken months ago and was being circulated now. This leads one to wonder: will people ever be satisfied? Unrealistic expectations for public figures are at an all-time high, and many people believe they are entitled to private information.

On March 22, Princess Kate appeared in a video posted by the Kensington Palace account on X, in which she explained that tests after her abdominal surgery revealed evidence of cancer, and she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

She also explained how taxing the past few months had been for their family, along with the difficulty that they had experienced while explaining her condition to her children and reassuring them that she would be okay.

Kate and William do not owe anyone anything; their years of public appearances, speeches and connection to the public should be enough. They are entitled to the same privacy as anyone else and do not deserve to be harassed into sharing Kate’s journey with cancer.

This also raises the question of how this may have affected their family, especially their children. Explaining cancer to children is difficult as it is, and likely is made worse by scrutinization, harmful jokes and rumors.

It’s also unfair to Kate and William’s marriage; supporters of Kate immediately jumped to putting down Prince William upon hearing unsubstantiated rumors of infidelity, only for her to clarify that he has been a pillar of support in this difficult time.

This news also came amid King Charles’ cancer diagnosis. This should mean that the royal family should receive more support, but many even extended their rumors to include King Charles and his own health.

The same empathy and understanding should be offered to those in the public eye during times of crisis. People seem to lose sight of the fact that public figures are still human, not just a source of entertainment, and their struggle should not be exploited to create content.

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About the Contributor
Ellie Gregory, Asst. Copy Editor | she/her
Ellie is a freshman from Bedford, New Hampshire, majoring in criminal justice. When she isn’t doing homework or writing an article, you can find her exploring Boston, reading, writing poetry or listening to Taylor Swift.

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