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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

If you enjoy keeping up with the Royal Family, or even if you are simply on the internet, I am sure that you’ve heard all the rumors surrounding Princess Catherine of Wales’s, formerly Kate Middleton, disappearance from the public eye. The Royal Family has faced a lot of scrutiny from American media in the wake of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s departure from the family and the exposure of their mistreatment, but it appears that the Royal Family and British press are not making any changes.

Meghan and Harry did an interview with Oprah following their departure from the Royal Family in which they both shared their experiences with the British press and the Royal Family’s lack of protections for Harry, but particularly for Meghan. The couple shared that Meghan faced racism and discrimination from the media and even from members of the family. She also shared that she greatly struggled with her mental health during her pregnancy, amongst harsh commentary from the media, and when these concerns were brought to the royal family Meghan was given no support or help. Both Harry and Meghan expressed that they felt the Royal Family would use them as scapegoats to protect other members of the family and that they were not protected or valued in the family, thus their departure.

Recently, however, the media turned its attention to Princess Kate when she suddenly disappeared from the public eye with only a vague comment from the family. Rumors immediately began flying online and in the British press surrounding Kate’s whereabouts. The last public sighting of the Princess was on December 25th and it was not until January 17th that the Palace made a statement that Kate had been hospitalized due to abdominal surgery. Following this announcement, the Palace made a few other statements regarding when the Princess would be returning to her public duties, but the time frame kept on extending. Accompanying these vague statements from the Palace were several instances of obviously photoshopped images. The first was of Kate and her children, where people immediately noticed several tell-tale signs of photoshop. The editing was so blatant that British press outlets put out statements following the release of the image that it was likely doctored and Kate herself made a statement, claiming artistic practice in photography. There were also images released of the Princess riding in the car, but the internet believed these images to be photoshopped as well.

All this suspicious activity and the lack of transparency from the Royals about Kate’s whereabouts caused internet conspiracy theories to run wild. Just from my own algorithm I heard theories that Kate had died, and the family was hiding her passing, that she had undergone plastic surgery, and the most prominent rumor, that Prince William was having an affair and that the couple was separating. Internet sleuths and conspiracy theorists found mountains of “proof” of their claims about where Kate could be, and these rumors caused even more media attention to be put on the Royal Family.

The rumor mill came to a screeching halt, however, on March 22nd when Kate announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer and had begun treatment. The media and social media were shocked, and some creators made lighthearted apologies for the rumors. Kate explained that her absence was due to her and her family processing the news of the diagnosis and working with her medical team to begin a treatment plan. So, no, Princess Kate did not get a BBL and Prince William is not leaving her for his mistress. Instead, the family and Kate have been facing a horrible new medical reality while the press and the public made wild speculations about their private lives.

The Royal Family has been the poster child for the need for privacy for public figures, but the media never seems to change. The issue is two-pronged; first, the media and public must stop feeling so entitled to the Royal Family and spreading awful rumors about their lives, and second, the Royal Family should stand by its members and support them in the wake of media attacks. Meghan and Harry expressed that the family does not step in against the media out of precedent and because that’s the way the British press has always worked. However, the damage seems to be greater now. In recent decades we have seen how the British press’s aggression led to the death of Princess Dianna, the ousting of Meghan and Harry along with Meghan’s mental health struggles, and now we have seen Kate be brutally scrutinized while privately dealing with a terminal diagnosis. The media, and particularly social media, have emboldened us to have a para-social relationship with celebrities, but the reality is that they don’t owe us anything. The Royal Family and celebrities are people too and they deserve privacy and compassion just like the rest of us. Hopefully, one day, our society will end these media frenzies on celebrities and show more empathy for those in the public eye.  

Tenny Luhrs is an author and member of the Writing and Editing Committee for Her Campus at Texas A&M University. She writes and publishes articles for Her Campus with her main topic coverage being news, social justice, and activism. Outside of Her Campus, Tenny is a full-time, third year student at Texas A&M University and is majoring in Communications with a minor in Spanish. Tenny is also the co-owner of Mended Jewelry, a permanent jewelry business that she founded with her roommate in the College Station area. As partial owner of Mended Jewelry, Tenny oversees marketing, inventory, scheduling, and legal protections for the business. In her free time, Tenny enjoys streaming shows and podcasts, reading, and finding new music. Tenny is the mother of a beautiful black cat named Kitty, who is her whole world. She also frequents record stores and antique stores, taking pride in the fact that her home décor has been described as “grandma- chic.” She is most passionate about social justice issues and activism and has attended many marches for gun reform and LGBTQ+ rights. Seeing the divide within the media, she strives to work as a journalist to bring factual, unbiased news to the public.