Madonna King: Kate’s hide and seek with the media is a lost opportunity

The King takes his royal responsibilities seriously – including setting an example.

The King takes his royal responsibilities seriously – including setting an example. Photo: Getty

King Charles’ relevance to Australia is routinely behind the push by republicans here to have him ousted as head of state.

But this week, he dished out a lesson in just how pertinent he can make his royal role; the evidence seen in the long line-up of males seeking prostate checks in countries across the globe.

Google searches on ‘prostate’ also increased 1000 per cent; after all, if the King’s prostate was underperforming, perhaps it was time to check our own.

This phenomenon is not new. Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer diagnosis at 36 – in 2005 – prompted a surge in mammograms by younger women.

When Shane Warne died of a heart attack nearly two years ago, cardiologists cited a strong spike in new patients; men of a similar age wanting to rule out a similar prognosis.

The “King Charles effect’’ no doubt will save lives because it’s an organ and a condition we don’t like to talk too much about.

But it goes further than that. It educates communities in towns and cities a million miles away from Buckingham Palace, it prompts governments to look at funding, and raises awareness of research around the same topic.

Did you know, for instance, that an enlarged prostate puts pressure on the urinary tract, affecting bladder function? It is common, with about half of men aged 50 to 60 and nine in 10 80-year-olds affected.

In Australia, thousands and thousands of men undergo surgery each year to treat the condition.

And that information – which wouldn’t be in this column or reported widely elsewhere this week without King Charles’ intervention – shows why it is a pity Catherine, the Princess of Wales, declined to do the same.

Now of course she, the future Queen, is entitled to privacy. And she shouldn’t have to share private medical details any more than any of us.

But just imagine if she had decided to take the approach of her father-in-law. Imagine the dollars that might have gone into new research; the line-up for medical checks in dozens of countries; the funding that would flow into medical areas we don’t talk enough about.

It’s a lost opportunity, however you look at it.

But the hide-and-seek game she’s played with the media and the fact that King Charles has run interference by announcing his own operation only 90 minutes after the revelation she was to have surgery has just played into the conspiracy theories.

It’s led to no less publicity, just hundreds and hundreds of rumours over what Kate might be suffering.

Abdominal separation and a hysterectomy seem to top the list, but that doesn’t rule out other conditions around those abdominal organs – including the bladder, gallbladder, intestines, kidney, liver, the pancreas, spleen, stomach, uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.

At least half of us have all of them, so there’s no mystery. Secret women’s business died a decade or more ago.

So take your pick at the affliction she might be suffering. And then there are the claims that she was put into an induced coma after serious complications. Was that an appendectomy gone wrong or something else?

All that conjecture has been fed by the Palace, which announced that while it was not cancer, the princess’s recuperation would take months.

It was all planned abdominal surgery, the royal family explained, but all trips and official appearances would now be cancelled.

The children would go to school as normal, because this was not abnormal surgery, but her husband, and second in line to the throne, would now cancel a chunk of his work to be close by her side.

The Palace would know that speculation would run rife. It would also know the enormous and worldwide value in the princess explaining her condition; an unprecedented marketing opportunity that would materially change lives.

The princess has a right to privacy. That’s not in doubt. But what a prodigious lost opportunity.

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