A newspaper says video of Prince William and Kate should halt royal rumor mill. That’s a tall order

Mar 19, 2024, 11:30 AM

FILE - Britain's Kate, Princess of Wales smiles during her visit to Sebby's Corner in north London,...

FILE - Britain's Kate, Princess of Wales smiles during her visit to Sebby's Corner in north London, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Princess Kate apologized Monday, March 11, 2024 for “confusion” caused by her editing of a family photo released by the palace — an image of the British royal and her children that was intended to calm concern and speculation about the princess's health, but had the opposite effect. (Frank Augstein, WPA Pool/Getty Images)

(Frank Augstein, WPA Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — The late Queen Elizabeth II used to say that the royal family has to be seen to be believed.

That became glaringly evident as the absence of Kate, the Princess of Wales, from public view unleashed an escalating frenzy of wild speculation, skepticism and flat-out conspiracy theories fueled by online armchair detectives.

It’s unlikely to let up even though Kate and husband Prince William have been filmed at a farm shop near their Windsor home — the first footage of the 42-year-old princess since she had abdominal surgery for an unspecified condition two months ago.

The Sun newspaper plastered its front page with “Great to see you again, Kate!” and said it had decided to publish the footage “in a bid to bring an end to what the Palace has called the ‘madness of social media.’”

But that probably won’t stem the tide of feverish and at times fantastical speculation that has swirled about the princess’s condition during her absence.

“The potency and legitimacy of monarchy comes from visibility,” said Anna Whitelock, professor of history of the monarchy at London’s City University. “Visibility is the ‘contract’ between a monarch and their people.”

Evidence of that lies in the steady stream of photos of King Charles III meeting dignitaries and officials released by the palace since the monarch announced in February that he is being treated for an unspecified form of cancer. Charles’ relative openness about his diagnosis was a departure for the generally secretive royal family.

Kate has not been as open, or as successful, at controlling the narrative.

Palace officials gave little detail about Kate’s condition beyond saying that it wasn’t cancer-related, the surgery was successful and recuperation will keep Kate away from public duties until after Easter. That’s likely to mean she’ll be out of sight until her children go back to school on April 17.

Experts who study conspiracy theories say the snowballing conjecture surrounding Kate isn’t so different from how dozens of other “nonstandard beliefs” gain momentum.

“The moment there’s an information gap, people will fill it. And they can fill that space quite quickly … when we have such a fast-moving mediascape,” said Simeon Yates, a professor of digital culture at the University of Liverpool.

Speculation didn’t stop after William and Kate’s Kensington Palace office released a photo of Kate and her children George, Charlotte and Louis on March 10 to coincide with Mother’s Day in the U.K. The move backfired when The Associated Press and other news agencies retracted the picture from publication because it appeared to have been manipulated, fueling even more conjecture.

Although there was no suggestion the image was fake, inconsistencies such as the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand with the sleeve of her sweater suggested it had been altered.

Kate issued a statement acknowledging she liked to “experiment with editing” and apologizing for “any confusion” the photo had caused.

The manipulated photo set off a new round of speculation, some of it centered on unsubstantiated theories that the image wasn’t recent or that Kate had been photoshopped in — alongside even more bizarre claims.

The palace and the British government have tried to ignore the conjecture but occasionally have had to respond. The British Embassy in Kyiv released a statement saying Monday “news about King Charles III death is fake,” after Russian outlets falsely reported the monarch’s demise.

The video clip published by The Sun late Monday appears to show William and Kate smiling as they walked together, carrying shopping bags. It said the footage was taken Saturday in Windsor, west of London.

The Sun quoted Nelson Silva, who said he filmed the video, as saying, “Kate looked happy and relaxed. They look happy just to be able to go to a shop and mingle.”

Kensington Palace did not comment on the video.

Yates said that “Kategate” resonates because so many people in the U.K., the United States and around the world feel emotionally invested in the royal family — an institution that’s both public and secretive.

“There’s quite an emotional thrill of thinking, ‘I know there’s a secret going on,’” he said. “There’s an enjoyment in thinking, well you know, ‘I know something special.’ It makes you feel better.”

Daniel Allington, who studies conspiracy theories at King’s College London, agreed that the Kate speculation has its roots in people’s emotional connection to the British royal family.

“Because of that, they want to talk about them, they want to know about them, and when there is very little known, people end up speculating. They are trying to make something out of nothing,” Allington said.

He also predicted that quieting the international frenzy won’t be a simple task.

“Once people start doubting, they can doubt practically everything. Once people start going on that track of speculation about the truth being hidden, it’s very difficult to get them off that track,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

World News

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is pictured in Kyiv on April 15. Ukraine is tightening pre...

Radina Gigova, CNN

Ukraine tightens pressure on military age men abroad as part of wider mobilization rules overhaul

Ukraine is tightening pressure on men of call-up age living abroad by temporarily suspending consular services, amid a wider overhaul of the country’s mobilization rules aimed at beefing up its defenses against Russia’s invasion.

52 minutes ago

Inside of Utah State University's Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training....

Mike Anderson

Autism program at Utah State University is helping kids across the world

An overseas supermodel turned philanthropist is getting help from Utah State University to teach children with autism.

22 hours ago

WASHINGTON - APRIL 14:  Activists line Wisconsin Avenue during a vigil outside the residence of Vic...

Matthew Barakat, Associated Press

Jury deliberating in Iraq Abu Ghraib prison abuse civil case; contractor casts blame on Army

A lawyer for a military contractor being sued by three survivors of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq says the plaintiffs are suing the wrong people.

2 days ago

FILE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked US lawmakers after they voted in favor of a ne...

Maria Kostenko, Andrew Carey, Frederik Pleitgen, Tamar Michaelis, Samantha Waldenberg and Daria Tarasova-Markina, CNN

Ukraine’s Zelensky and Israel’s Netanyahu hail House passage of $95 billion foreign aid package

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu have thanked US lawmakers after they voted in favor of new aid packages for their countries worth billions of dollars.

4 days ago

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani addresses the opening session on...

Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Israel gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran, Italian foreign minister says at G7

The United States told the Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, Italy’s foreign minister said.

5 days ago

air strike seen from a distance...


Israel has carried out a strike inside Iran, US official tells CNN, as region braces for escalation

Israel has carried out a military strike inside Iran, a US official told CNN Friday, a potentially dangerous escalation in a fast-widening Middle East conflict that Iranian government officials have so far sought to play down.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

A newspaper says video of Prince William and Kate should halt royal rumor mill. That’s a tall order