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The Princess and her Privacy: A HOT Communication Crisis Continued…

By Kaleigh Duff on April 8, 2024

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A still from a video of Princess Catherine sitting on a bench.

In my most recent article, I wrote about King Charles and the Royal family and how Royal protocol impacts the release of information about their personal lives. As I explained the benefits of HOT communication, some significant developments were underway in terms of Royal family gossip and speculation as another Royal became the focus of tabloids and internet conspiracy theorists. Catherine, Princess of Wales, or commonly Kate or Princess Kate, caused quite a stir after she disappeared from the public eye. Read along as I detail the impact of a communications crisis and how quickly your privacy can diminish when people want answers. 

Just weeks before King Charles announced his cancer diagnosis, Kensington Palace informed the public with a statement explaining that Princess Kate would be undergoing a planned abdominal surgery and would not return to tend to her public duties until after Easter. Instantly, speculation began: is she having a hysterectomy? Is she secretly pregnant? Is it a digestive tract operation? Or is it something more sinister or embarrassing? The people of Britain, and frankly, the world, were insistent on being in the loop, and where answers were lacking… conspiracies began to form.

Kate had not been seen in weeks, and even though Kensington Palace stated that her return would not precede Easter weekend, this was not enough explanation. As public frustration grew, the mystery took off, and the conspiracies began festering. A cheating scandal, a possible divorce, and a BBL operation were all examples of (surprisingly) the milder theories. The world was fixated for days on the whereabouts of Princess Kate. For a moment, let’s turn away from the outrageous theories, and instead focus on the Royal family’s method of handling this issue caused by lack of communication. As I’m sure you can expect, it was similar to throwing gasoline on a fire.

This recent fluster of health issues has not been great for the Royals, as their spoon-feeding tactics when informing the public only cause an increase in interest, therefore triggering a massive invasion of privacy. I know what you’re thinking; The Royals are people, too. They deserve privacy and downtime just like we do.” You’re certainly correct, the behaviour and rumours spread this past month have been ridiculous and entertaining. The situation reminds me of my gratitude for living a quiet life. But with that being said, I also stand with the taxpayers who are funding their lavish salaries…. Tell us what’s going on!! Thus, we return to HOT communication. As I explained before, about King Charles’ situation, it is clear that the Royal family releases vague statements to help alleviate public fears while offering the public some transparency and preserving the subject’s privacy. This used to be enough, but for some reason, not anymore. 

HOT communication? Why would I need that when I have Photoshop? Kensington Palace released a photograph of Princess Kate and her three children to celebrate British Mother’s Day just a few weeks ago. As it turns out, the image was found to be heavily manipulated. Now, I don’t believe that an apology from the Princess was necessary. She is, in fact, a human being, and in her own words, “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing.”

This may be normal and acceptable, but this only fed into the ‘Where is Princess Kate?’ hysteria, and they should have expected nothing less. This was not a smart move on her part, and the public frustration would cost her more of her privacy. Now, Kensington Palace has released a video where Kate has announced that, like her father-in-law, she too has undergone recent cancer treatment. 

While this communication crisis calms, we can see what the public sought. Had the Royal family been honest, open, and transparent, much of the public hysteria would have been avoided. Following the release of Princess Kate’s video address, the outrage and gossip has essentially vanished, except for some interest in what kind of cancer she may have. This shows how the HOT method truly works, and it is simply public interest that requires satisfaction. Informing your loyal supporters of your situation, whether in a video or a letter, is honourable and expected as a public service figurehead. The honest route is a much better path than releasing an edited photo and radio silence. I anticipate the Royal family’s PR team will be used as a “what not to do” example for PR students for decades to come…

Besides speculation and best practice advice, I wish the Royal family strength and good health during this trying time.

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