Privacy or transparency: the dilemma of the British royal household that unleashes rumors, hoaxes and conspiracy theories | International | EUROtoday

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There is a great distance between stealing a photograph of a convalescent princess who asks for respect for her privateness and hastening the dying of a king in order that the information reaches the entrance web page of The Times of the following day. The very first thing occurred this week, when the American gossip web site TMZ obtained essentially the most searched picture by paparazzi: Princess of Wales, Catherine (Kate) Middleton, carrying darkish glasses, within the passenger seat of an Audi 4×4 pushed by her mom, round Windsor. The second, at 11 pm on January 20, 1936, when Dr. Lord Dawson determined to provide a excessive dose of morphine and cocaine to a dying George V, grandson of Queen Victoria, in order that he might die earlier than midnight and enter the following day's entrance web page of that monarch's favourite newspaper.

The British discovered about this 50 years later, when the diaries of the king's physician got here to mild. Today, social networks and tabloids demand to know all the main points relating to the well being of the Princess of Wales, and the lack of know-how sparks hypothesis and rumors.

Media world wide revealed the stolen photograph of the Princess of Wales. Although many, together with EL PAÍS, didn’t put her on the quilt, and in her digital version they restricted themselves to exhibiting a screenshot of the tweet from the TMZ account that confirmed her snapshot. In the United Kingdom, the place the media opened constitutional crises or shook the monarchy with compromising pictures of Lady Di or Sarah Ferguson, ex-wife of Andrés, brother of King Charles III, this time they selected to respect the privateness demanded by the staff communication of the Princess of Wales.

King Charles III receives the British Minister of the Economy, Jeremy Hunt, at Buckingham Palace this Wednesday
King Charles III receives the British Minister of the Economy, Jeremy Hunt, at Buckingham Palace this Wednesday earlier than the presentation of the price rangeAaron Chown (by way of REUTERS)

“All of this has opened a debate that raises how far the right to privacy of members of the royal family should go,” Richard Fitzwilliams, one of many public relations consultants and knowledgeable on royal affairs with essentially the most expertise, explains to EL PAÍS. status within the United Kingdom. “Previous monarchs reigned in different times. George V was given an extra dose of morphine to make the news sink in. The Times; Neither the citizens nor George VI himself ever knew that he had lung cancer, and it had to be through the exclusive of a journalist from The Sun as we found out that Elizabeth II had spent a night in the hospital in October 2021 due to the coronavirus.” There had been additionally no social networks, a minimum of with the primary two.

“And it is clear that, although we live in different times,” Fitzwilliams admits, “we should not allow social media to be the arbiter of this debate. Although a photo probably would have been smart casual from Kate. Nowadays, with our mobile phones, we are all paparazzi. In the United Kingdom they have chosen to avoid the TMZ photo, but it is not easy to find the balance of this dilemma.

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And the current era does not privilege some victims over others. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, denounced this Friday the “seemingly endless toxicity” of social media, and the “abuse and harassment” that she suffered throughout her two pregnancies. It is foreign money, within the tangle of reports, gossip and slander that circulates on the Internet, the rivalry between Markle and Middleton, which they’ve by no means made an effort to hide (and within the case of the previous, has admitted it extra overtly). “As you think about it and think about it in your head, you keep wondering why people have so much hate. It's not malicious, it's cruel,” Markle told the audience at an event held in Austin around International Women's Day.

Not one but several unknowns

The British royal family has had an unfortunate start to the year, and the blame has been on their communications teams and the strategy deployed. King Charles III, 75 years old, wanted to be more transparent than the rest, as corresponds to the head of state, and has explained that he suffers from cancer and is withdrawing from face-to-face public activity for the duration of the treatment. Consequence: rumors and speculation about the type of cancer he suffers from.

The Duchess of Wales, 42, has only explained that she underwent “abdominal surgery” in mid-January. She spent two weeks convalescing within the hospital, and has disappeared from the general public scene till a minimum of the top of March. Consequence: hoaxes and conspiracy theories on the networks concerning the severity of her sickness, and diagnoses with out information.

Kensington Palace finally decided this Sunday to publish on the social network X (formerly Twitter) a photo of the princess and her children, supposedly taken at the beginning of last week, to try to stop the rumors. The excuse is the celebration of Mother's Day in the United Kingdom, and Kate Middleton thanks in a brief message “the sort needs and continued help obtained during the last two months.”

William of England, the heir, excused his presence on February 27, with just one hour's notice, from the religious service held in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, in honor of his godfather, Constantine of Greece. Consequence: the Kensington Palace communications team was forced to explain that his unexpected scare has nothing to do with the health of his wife.

And when the newspaper The Times said this week that the queen consort Camilla, who has been carrying institutional representation on her shoulders for a month – William had taken a few weeks to take care of the family – was going to go on vacation for 10 days (“to a sunny place, exterior the nation “) to rest, the world press panicked. The monarch has been going on vacation at this time of year for years, but in the current situation of confusion and sick leave, her absence caused the perfect storm.

“And that's what I suspect it is: a storm in a teacup,” Jonathan Sumption, historian, lawyer, former Supreme Court justice and one of the minds, affectionately scolds EL PAÍS correspondent for asking him about this matter. more lucid to help understand the United Kingdom. “The only ones who are dedicated to pressing for more information are journalists. Queen Camilla is an older lady, and the Princess of Wales is a woman with a full schedule and three children. Why are they forced to reveal intimate details about their health? Give them a break,” he recommends.

But if the traditional press hardly tolerates information gaps, on social networks they become unbearable. The British media has respected both Charles III's decision not to give more details about his cancer and Middleton's decision to preserve her intimate life. In the case of the first, because the level of transparency offered has been sufficient – for the moment – and because of the respect due to the monarch. In Middleton's, surely, because the lessons learned from the abuse that Lady Di suffered during her day have been useful.

As the BBC's royal affairs correspondent, Sean Coughlan, pointed out this week, when information is excessively rationed, the answers offered by the respective communications teams only raise new questions.

Although image experts offer a simpler solution to the mystery surrounding the Princess of Wales: apart from the error caused by the stolen TMZ photo, the strategy pursued by Middleton's team was probably to choose the best moment, the best stage, and the best costumes for a public return that would silence rumors and speculation.

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