Princess of Wales’ video fails to stop frenzied online conspiracy theories

Inderdeep Bains
Daily Mail
4 Min Read
Catherine, Princess of Wales announces she has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing preventative chemotherapy in a video released to the Prince and Princess of Wales' YouTube account.
Catherine, Princess of Wales announces she has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing preventative chemotherapy in a video released to the Prince and Princess of Wales' YouTube account. Credit: The Prince and Princess of Wales/The Prince and Princess of Wales

It had been hoped that the Princess of Wales’s decision to announce her cancer diagnosis would finally bring a stop to the frenzied conspiracy theories being peddled in recent weeks.

But despite Kate delivering an emotional video message which touched the hearts of the nation, the outlandish and cruel claims targeting the 42-year-old have continued to spiral online.

Social media platforms were last night urged to clamp down on the vitriol as critics claimed the vile trolling had “re-victimised” the cancer-stricken princess and amounted to ‘mafia-style tactics’ to force her to divulge more information.

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Within minutes of Kate’s announcement, trolls began spreading bizarre posts that her video was AI-generated while others criticised her for not going public sooner.

The sickening uploads saw trolls doctor Kate’s heartfelt message with the faces of Princess Diana or the Duchess of Sussex to prove how easily a deep fake could be created. The Prince of Wales has also been targeted by trolls questioning why he did not sit beside his wife as she filmed the emotional video.

Fuelling the fire within 30 minutes of the broadcast, Christopher Bouzy — an avid supporter of Harry and Meghan — went on a rant to his 350,000 followers on X.

The tech chief executive bizarrely claimed Kate’s diagnosis meant that recent pictures were fake and accused the palace of ‘North Korea’ style propaganda.

“I am sorry to hear Kate has cancer, I hope she has a full recovery. But it is also clear that all three earlier photos of her were fake, and the palace tried to cover it up,” he wrote.

Mr Bouzy, who appeared on the Sussexes’ Netflix show, was apparently referencing Kate’s Mother’s Day photo, a video of her shopping in Windsor and an image of her being driven in a car.

The 48-year-old added: “The palace lied, and the British press happily helped them lie. The countless ‘conspiracy theory’ headlines, while knowing a lot of what was being said was true. This is really some North Korea/Trumpian type of propaganda.”

He went on to accuse Prince William of throwing his wife “under the bus” over the altered Mother’s Day portrait and said he had failed to back her in her announcement.

He was among conspiracy theorists who spread a CNN clip, which has now been viewed millions of times, in which a doctor claimed that Kate’s statement did not make “medical sense”.

Asked how cancer could be found after surgery, Jonathan Reiner said: “With all respect to the royal family, that kind of press release doesn’t make a lot of medical sense.”

The professor of medicine at George Washington University said such operations are preceded by extensive CAT scans and MRIs, adding it was “very likely” the surgical team knew of the cancer prior to operating.

Several red-faced celebrities and commentators including Blake Lively and Kerry Katona have apologised for their careless comments about Kate. Others have faced pressure to follow suit including Kim Kardashian, who previously uploaded a picture of herself next to her car with the caption “on my way to go find Kate”.

Paddy Harverson, the former official spokesman of Kate and the Prince of Wales, said the online targeting of her was the worst he had witnessed. “It’s a sort of permanent doom loop. And it’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” he told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.

Imran Ahmed, an expert in countering online extremism, said that platforms were guilty of promoting the conspiracy theories to keep audiences hooked in order to sell ads.

The head of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate said: “There is an algorithmic acceleration of conspiracy theories, hate and disinformation over accurate information and calls for support because that’s what keeps the audience captive.”

He said that the princess had been “re-victimised” for not sharing her private medical information immediately and was now being subjected to “mafia style tactics” to divulge more.

“It is morally outrageous ... social media platforms have compounded the harm done to that family at what is already an incredibly difficult time,” Mr Ahmed said.

His concerns were echoed by Twitter’s former UK and Europe boss Bruce Daisley who said the “serious issue” was how X’s algorithms promote untrustworthy content.

Damian Collins, a Tory MP who has chaired the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, also criticised social media platforms for promoting false content.

“If a clickbait story, based on conspiracy theories, grabs people’s attention, then they’re more interested in that than promoting news,” he said.

Chairman of the Labour Party Anneliese Dodds criticised tech bosses for failing to take action against the trolls.

She told GB News that the speculation about the princess was “lurid”, adding: “It must have been extremely distressing.”

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