Princess Kate health update would stop "crazy" theories: PR experts (2024)

Updates by Kensington Palace about Princess Kate's health could help squash rumors circulating among both the mainstream media and on social media while she is out of the public eye focusing on her health, an expert told Newsweek.

February and March saw wild speculation as the Princess of Wales took time out of royal duties to focus on recovery from abdominal surgery.

Conspiracy theories became so rampant that she eventually revealed in a video message on March 22 that she had been diagnosed with cancer and begun chemotherapy.

That initially silenced much of the gossip but, around two-and-a-half months later, the frenzy appears to have returned.

Nick Ede, a U.K.-based brand and culture expert, told Newsweek: "The return of rumors about Kate creates a huge dilemma for the royal family and their comms team.

"On the one hand, they have a duty to inform the public and quash rumors that could be damaging and create negative noise.

"They could make another announcement, but I don't think it'll stop speculation. On the other hand, they remain quiet and dignified and take the Queen's stance, 'never complain, never explain,'" Ede said.

"It's pretty obvious that things are not good, and when it's someone's health, it's private and personal.

"My advice would be for the palace, however, to give updates that are short and sweet, informing the media and everyone else that the timeline may change and offering a small update.

"This way, it stops crazy conspiracy theories and speculation in its track but doesn't expose the royal family and the princess at this time."

Princess Kate health update would stop "crazy" theories: PR experts (1)

In the mainstream media, The Daily Beast reported that Kate's diary is clear for the rest of the year and suggested she may not return to work until 2025. The Daily Mail said the palace was eyeing up an autumn return, but only if she had been cleared by doctors. Us Weekly reported that Kate may never return to full-time work as we know it.

The palace has not officially responded to any of the articles. After Kate's announcement in March, it requested that news outlets refrain from speculation, instead giving the princess the time, space, and privacy to focus on her health.

However, stories about Kate's health have fueled conspiracy theories on social media, with some users claiming all is not as it seems with the princess' absence.

One such post on X, formerly Twitter, linked to a New York Post story with the headline "Kate Middleton 'may never come back' to her previous royal role after cancer treatment" and was viewed 15.5 million times.

But there have also been other, more positive noises from the U.K. press, including from royal biographer Katie Nicholl, author of The New Royals.

In May, she told Talk TV's The Royal Tea that Kate "has turned a corner" after what the princess herself described as "major abdominal surgery" in January followed by chemotherapy beginning in late February.

The swirl of seemingly contradictory stories and information is itself ripe for conspiracy theorists who can pick and choose which version best suits their narrative.

At the same time, any articles that do not fit their particular speculative take can simply be dismissed as part of the conspiracy.

However, the key benchmark is not so much the existence of conspiracy theories as whether the public actually pays attention to them.

Therefore, the palace may be most concerned by the apparent recent increase in views on X posts.

Mark Borkowski, a U.K.-based PR consultant and author of Improperganda, told Newsweek the palace should be "very aggressive about this."

"In terms of the speculation," he said, "I'd be getting really ahead of it and saying, 'leave this woman alone.'

"I'd be using various friends of the royal family to be saying, 'why should this begin again?' 'Be very clear to say, 'when the time is right we'll be making an announcement.'"

"The longer it goes on, obviously more and more people will work out there might be a degree of severity, but this is a family you're talking about—not just an appendage of the state," Borkowski added.

"I do feel for them on this occasion, but all the time it goes back to how this whole story was set up. You're always working backward to the point you didn't handle this as well as you should have done at the beginning."

Kate began chemotherapy toward the end of February even as the conspiracy theories were starting to go into overdrive, though the palace did not tell the public.

At the time, Kate had not been seen since Christmas Day, placing huge pressure for a new picture of her. But when one emerged it had been heavily photoshopped by Kate, forcing her into an apology.

Another option for them would be for Kate to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour—King Charles III's birthday parade—during which Prince William will ride on horseback.

Kate has been ruled out of the Colonel's Review, a rehearsal taking place one week beforehand, this Saturday, June 8. She would also likely swerve joining other royals in the carriage procession for Trooping on June 15.

Borkowski felt that though this might not be the best option, "I don't think it's about what she can and can't do. If you start telegraphing that she will be here, and she might do this, and she could do this, then you're back in the same situation.

"You need to keep it at ground zero all the time. When the time is right she'll be back."

In her March 22 cancer announcement, Kate said: "We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment.

"My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery."

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek's The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about Charles, Camilla, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email We'd love to hear from you.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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Princess Kate health update would stop "crazy" theories: PR experts (2024)
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