Christopher Dore: It’s ok to question the royal’s PR fiasco — you can’t lie to the people

Headshot of Christopher Dore
Christopher Dore
The Nightly
5 Min Read
Ironically the suspicion the palace was hiding something, the intuition of the internet, turned out to be true once the Princess of Wales revealed her sad news.
Ironically the suspicion the palace was hiding something, the intuition of the internet, turned out to be true once the Princess of Wales revealed her sad news. Credit: The Prince and Princess of Wales/Supplied

Never mind the bollocks.

It is a hard LOLOL to suggest we, the simpleton subjects of this royal rag show, armed with our menacing mobiles and accessing our insidious Instagram, are to blame for this utterly unedifying, frightfully hideous spectacle.

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This is one of the great communication fails of all time.

The Kate Middleton saga is a sad tale of personal tragedy and institutional incompetence.

This is a PR debacle purposefully perpetrated on the people by the palace. Predictably, there has been an outbreak of gnashing and gnawing from the keyboards of the media equivalent of the monarchy, the snobbish, intellectually superior super brains in the so-called legacy media insisting this calamity of confusion is all your fault.

Shame on you. Look at what you have done with all your speculating and salivating over the mystery of the missing mini-monarch.

Never mind, the establishment British media, the modern royal guard, would have been in on the charade to hide what was really ailing the Princess of Wales, the future queen of England, and Australia.

In the absence of any sensible official explanation from the royal family, imagine the audacity of the public to take it upon themselves to percolate some possibilities.

It’s entirely unreasonable, rubbish actually, to suggest the next queen of England is entitled to keep secret a serious cancer diagnosis from her subjects while disappearing from public life.

Understandable of course how incredibly heartbreaking such news would be for loved ones, how confusing it would be for her young children. The parental instincts of William and Kate to retreat into their little family bubble to protect their kids is legitimate and laudatory.

But the palace should have known better.

This is not any family.

This is the royal family. We are their subjects. They expect, nay demand, to be treated differently, with deference, with reverence. The giveaway is right there in the name.

Were we to ever be given the great honour of meeting them, even one of lowly rank, they, more precisely their courtiers, would insist we dignify their presence with a bow, a curtsey, that we lower our gaze, should our vituperative tongue, our vulgar stare and vile touch offend.

Commoners. We are the monarchy. Yield before us.

Trite it might be, but true it surely is.

Despite the absurdity of it, even in Australia there is still a genuine affection for the royal family, there is even a fondness for the rogues among them. It’s a quirk, and we’re OK with that, for the moment.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND  - UNDATED:  EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO SALES. Publications are asked to credit The Prince of Wales. The photograph is being made available by way of license on condition that the photograph shall be solely for news editorial use only, no charge should be made for the supply, release, or publication of the photograph; there shall be no commercial use whatsoever of the photograph - including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use. The image must not be digitally enhanced, cropped, manipulated or modified in any manner or form.  The photograph shall not be used after 31st December 2024, without prior permission from Kensington Palace. Any questions relating to the use of the photograph should be first referred to Kensington Palace and before publication. 

Handout photo issued by Kensington Palace of the Catherine, Princess of Wales with her children, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, taken in Windsor, earlier this week, by the Prince of Wales. The Princess of Wales shared a message on social media thanking the public for their continued support and wishing people a Happy Mother's Day in Windsor, England. (Photo by Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace/Handout/Getty Images)
The photograph that poured fuel on the conspiracy theory fire. Credit: Handout/Kensington Palace via Getty Imag

Our very own Constitution, our most venerable document, our guide to life, is built upon the rule of the British royal family, the Crown of the United Kingdom.

It’s so important and untouchable we refuse to update it, correct it, or add to it. Give it a bit of a 21st-century spruce up.

The Crown gets a better run in the birth certificate of our nation, the fundamental law of our land, than the actual founders of the joint, the ones who put in a good 40,000 years worth of toil before, well you know. Every now and then the bunch of old blokes, sometimes women, sitting in the brutalist horror of the High Court, robe up, have a bit of a get-together and decide they might give the old Constitution a freshen up to their own fancy, without any reference to the rest of us, of course.

Ditto all of the above in England. Where this whole circus began and where the main tent still plugs into the royal supina bluegrass.

The point is, this mob are different.

The royals, specifically the King or the Queen, whoever is alive enough to have the crown of jewels teetering on their bonce at any given time, and their idiot or otherwise offspring, by birthright rule over us. In two of the most successful (ignore Tasmania) democracies in history, we are beholden to a family lucky enough to have a very specific line of heirs.

Kate Middleton is the future queen, and the mother of the future king. She is entitled to respect and dignity, for sure.

It is truly horrible that a young mother, regardless of her status, is suffering through a dreadful indiscriminate illness. Even more upsetting that her children, and of course her wider family, should be put through this all too common ordeal.

But Kate is not like every other young mother of three. Her loved ones are not like every other family reeling from the ruthless, relentless reach of cancer.

All along the palace sought to play down the seriousness of her medical procedure, revealing only that it was “planned” abdominal surgery. Oh, planned, so all good then is it? OK, where is she? What was it? Absolutely legitimate questions.

Silence.

Ironically the suspicion the palace was hiding something, the intuition of the internet, turned out to be true.

In doing so, as her absence extended and the mystery deepened, Kensington Palace only added to the speculation and fuelled the ferocity of the firestorm. Fumbling the release of fake-ish family photos and posing in pre-arranged parades for the paparazzi at the local markets only added rather than quelled the intrigue.

She is so popular, so polite and professional and pleasing, that people worry about her. And the palace knows that.

The love for Kate is so sincere and serious the public would have protected her, if only they had been told, simply, and solemnly, in a statement from Kensington Palace.

Embraced, a collective cocoon would have been woven around Kate and her family. The conversation would have, as it did with King Charles’ cancer diagnosis, turned in a very different, uplifting, positive direction.

It’s exactly what will happen now.

Instead, she’s been led to a bench, in the middle of chemotherapy, sitting alone, drawn and frail, to explain her absence before BBC’s long lens. Mercifully, she says, she is “going to be OK”.

Maybe she wanted to wait until she could confidently give that assurance, use those words. Fair enough. Who can judge how any of us deal with trauma. But the games, the incompetence, surely only added to the family ordeal.

Ironically the suspicion the palace was hiding something, the intuition of the internet, turned out to be true.

This isn’t 1936. You’re not really The Firm anymore.

George V isn’t being put to his death in secret.

You can’t lie to the people.

They may not know exactly, God forbid, what is going on behind the grand gates but they sure know something, and they can tell when they’re being duped.

And good luck, in 2024, trying to stop your subjects doing what they’ve always done: major in mischievous melodrama.

These days, they don’t need to lean over the back fence or get a skinful down the pub. They don’t even need to talk to anyone. But play games with the truth and leave a void … they will fill it.

In the battle of the People v The Palace, back the plebeians every time.

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