Princess Kate’s Cancer Disclosure Shows Her Lessons From Previous Media Ordeals

By John Mercury March 26, 2024

For more than two months, Catherine, Princess of Wales, had lost control of her story to a spiral of wild, baseless online rumors. On Friday evening, with a stark two-minute, 13-second video, she set out to reclaim it.

To do so, the princess had to deliver the wrenching news that she was battling a life-threatening cancer, the kind of deeply personal disclosure that she and her husband, Prince William, have long resisted.

Catherine, 42, made the decision to record the video herself, three people familiar with the planning process said on Saturday. Earlier, she had decided to post an apology for digitally altering a photograph of herself with her three children, which set off a new round of conspiracy theories after it was released on Mother’s Day in Britain.

“This was pitch perfect from her perspective,” said Peter Hunt, a former royal correspondent at the BBC. “The fact that it was a video was a rebuke to all those questions about her whereabouts.”

In opting to go public this way, Catherine has etched a place for herself in the annals of the British royal family and among the women of the House of Windsor. The video, in its frankness and barely concealed emotion, recalled Queen Elizabeth II’s televised message days after the car crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

Catherine seemed to be modeling herself on Elizabeth, whose video was intended to douse another media firestorm, over whether she and the royal family had not displayed appropriate grief after Diana’s death. It also set her apart from Diana, who was ultimately a victim of the media currents that swirled around her.


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