Apologies roll in after Kate reveals cancer diagnosis

Princess Kate announced she is undergoing chemotherapy, after weeks of conspiracy theories running rampant.

Princess Kate announced she is undergoing chemotherapy, after weeks of conspiracy theories running rampant. Photo: AAP

Following Princess Kate’s announcement of her cancer diagnosis, people who made jokes or statements about her whereabouts have apologised.

Since it was announced earlier this year that Kate would be out of action as she recovered from abdominal surgery, conspiracy theories engulfed the internet.

Admittedly, the palace didn’t help when it released a doctored photo of Kate and her children on Mother’s Day and then laid the blame on her after intense scrutiny from the public and media.

While conspiracy theories were swirling about where the high-profile royal could be, the doctored photo became the butt of the joke in many cases.

Actor Blake Lively never mentioned Kate by name when she shared a clearly altered promotional poster for her alcohol brand Betty Buzz at the height of the photo drama, but following the announcement, she issued an apology.

“I’m sure no one cares today, but I feel like I have to acknowledge this. I made a silly post around the ‘Photoshop fails’ frenzy, and oh man, that post has me mortified today. I’m sorry,” Lively said.

There were plenty of people like Lively who have since apologised for making light of the photo, or Kate’s absence, since the announcement.

Now the pressure is on talk show host Stephen Colbert, who said in a monologue people online were trying to insinuate Kate’s absence following surgery was due to marital problems.

“The kingdom has been all aflutter by the seeming disappearance of Kate Middleton,” Colbert said.

“Well now, internet sleuths are guessing that Kate’s absence may be related to her husband and the future King of England, William, having an affair.”

Behind the conspiracy theories

It’s likely some, but not all, conspiracy theories started out of genuine concern for Kate. But some were malicious and downright delusional.

Even before the Mother’s Day photo, when the Palace said Kate would be MIA until after Easter, people were throwing out ideas as to what she could possibly be doing.

There was speculation she was fed up with Prince William, and his alleged affair.

Some people accused Kate of having plastic surgery. Some even speculated she was dead and the royal family was covering it up.

Some people did suggest her condition was worse than what the Palace had initially said, which did turn out to be the case. In reality, Kate has been undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” Kate said.

The undated photo issued on Sunday shows Kate, Princess of Wales with Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Windsor.

The photo shared on Mother’s Day sparked a fresh batch of conspiracies and jokes.

Together, Kate and William have three children: Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, and they decided to keep the news of the cancer private until the children were on school holidays.

After Kate shared the news of her diagnosis, some reflected on the conspiracies being shared in the weeks leading up to it.

Reshma Saujani is the CEO of Girls Who Code, and she said she was disgusted in herself, because even she “fell into the trap”.

“This is a classic example of what we do to women, of how when a woman takes time to prioritise her health and take care of her family, we second guess it to the point of coming up with conspiracy theories to explain her self care,” she wrote on Instagram.

How to spot a conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theories have always been around. Some take on new forms and new ones are born.

At the height of the Covid pandemic, conspiracy theories were rife. To combat them, the European Commission and UNESCO put out a handy guide on how to spot them.

Regardless of whether the conspiracy theory is related to Covid or the royals, they usually all have six things in common:

  • An alleged, secret plot
  • A group of conspirators
  • ‘Evidence’ that seems to support the conspiracy theory
  • They falsely suggest that nothing happens by accident and that there are no coincidences; nothing is as it appears and everything is connected
  • They divide the world into good or bad
  • They scapegoat people and groups.

Generally, conspiracy theories will offer an explanation to something that might be difficult to comprehend.

But as we saw with Kate, usually, the simplest explanation is the right one.

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