top of page

There is no greater contrast than that between the dignified Princess and sickening online trolls

Shame on those who peddled hurtful conspiracy theories amid a feeding frenzy over Kate’s whereabouts

The Princess has been subject to smears and rumours after spending three months out of the public eye CREDIT: Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace/REUTERS

Could there be a more marked contrast between the dignity with which the Princess of Wales announced her devastating cancer diagnosis and the behaviour of the trolls who have spent the last two months revelling in her misery?

We already knew that social media was a sewer, occupied by faceless rats intent on infecting others with their disease of hatred.

But their cruel treatment of Catherine since it was announced that she would be undergoing abdominal surgery in January has been sickening beyond belief.

From the peddling of hurtful conspiracy theories to the propagation of unsubstantiated lies, the keyboard warriors have inflicted an unnecessary amount of suffering on a woman now undergoing chemotherapy after a major operation.

Shame on them.

What Catherine has described as “an incredibly tough couple of months” have been made even worse by an unbearable level of scrutiny and intrusion not witnessed since the days of Diana, Princess of Wales.

We now know that, behind the scenes, while she was being torn to shreds for editing a Mothering Sunday photograph – and being smeared with countless false rumours – she was trying to come to terms with the worst news imaginable.

“Where is Catherine?” rang the moronic refrain – despite Kensington Palace repeatedly making it clear exactly where she was – recuperating at her home on the Windsor estate.

Even when she was spotted out at a farm shop with Prince William, some deranged idiots still refused to believe it was her.

When reporting the news that she was undergoing cancer treatment on Friday, the BBC felt the need to point out that there were “no edits” to the video, filmed by BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the corporation.

David Sillito, the BBC’s media and arts correspondent, led a segment 25 minutes into the programme on the frenzied speculation of recent weeks.

He said: “Rumours also circulated that the BBC was about to make an announcement. BBC News knew nothing, but BBC studios – the corporation’s separate production arm – did.

They were filming today’s royal statement.”

Hopefully, the Princess’s characteristically calm and composed video message, recorded on Wednesday, will finally put a stop to the feeding frenzy.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, summed it up perfectly when he referred to her being “unfairly treated by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media” and being deserving of “the privacy to focus on her treatment and be with her loving family”.

There will doubtless still be those who question why we are only just finding out that she has cancer, despite the Princess starting a preventative course of chemotherapy in February.

But as Catherine explained: “This, of course, came as a huge shock. 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.”

What people don’t seem to realise about William and Catherine is that despite being one of the most photographed couples in the world, they are inherently shy and introverted people.

While they appreciate that public appearances come with the territory of being very senior working royals, they have never craved the limelight, preferring quiet nights in to red carpet outings.

They are, for want of a better phrase, homebodies. Both are exceptionally family orientated, with Catherine so close to her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, that she speaks to them practically every day.

As well as focusing on the Princess’s recovery, the family have had to carefully balance the public’s right to know what is wrong with her – and a mother’s right to demand privacy for herself and her children.

It will have been particularly agonising for William who, like his brother Prince Harry, still resents their own childhood being up for public consumption – with their late mother hunted by the press and paparazzi wherever she went.

Ever since he first met Catherine at St Andrew’s University, he has strived to protect his wife out of fear of history repeating itself. Recent weeks will have been torture for him as Kensington Palace tried and failed to control the narrative.

I wouldn’t be surprised if William initially resisted the idea of Catherine personally recording a video message before being persuaded that it was the only way to take complete ownership of the news and present it in a way that the public, two young Princes and a Princess alike could easily understand.

The steely determination with which she delivered what must have been the hardest speech of her life reveals why people who know Catherine well often talk of how tough she is.

There were shades of Elizabeth II as she spoke from the heart, not just as a royal but as a wife and mother. I’ve never seen her so self-composed – and when she spoke of being fully focused on a “full recovery”, it was impossible to disbelieve her.

As a future king and queen, and the parents of a future king, the couple have worked hard to ensure that George, Charlotte and Louis perform the royal duties expected of them while also being able to enjoy as normal an upbringing as it is possible to have in a modern monarchy.

Such is their desire to be as hands-on as possible that staff are under strict instructions to arrange the royal diary to ensure that at least one of Mum or Dad is there for the school run.

One of the reasons they moved to Adelaide Cottage – and have avoided upgrading to the much grander Windsor Castle – is that they want the children to grow up in a family home, without being surrounded by “servants and silver platters”.

At times they have faced criticism for putting immediate family before the family “Firm” – but it has all been designed to give the young Waleses the best start in life, with their best interests at heart.

It’s heartbreaking to think of Catherine having to reassure the children: “I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits.”

The couple decided to make the announcement now, at the start of the Easter holidays, so they can shield the children from all the coverage that will inevitably ensue.

That is why the Princess has not just appealed for her own privacy but for that of her family, saying: “We now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.”

A vocal minority may have behaved appallingly, but the silent majority will have huge admiration for the courage she has shown.

After all that has been said and done, honouring her request to be left alone is the very least we can do.


bottom of page