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I’m a Royal Reporter and I’m Convinced Today’s Princess Anne News Is a Direct Result of Those Kate Middleton Conspiracy Theories

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It was early March of this year. The Kate Middleton memes, rumors and conspiracy theories had taken the world by storm. Where was she? Was her marriage in trouble? Had she secretly passed away? The princess hadn’t been seen since December and all we knew was that she went in for some form of abdominal surgery.

Then “the photo” came out and the Kate Middleton frenzy—and anger—reached wild new heights.
The princess had shared a family photo that was meant to calm the conspiracy theorists, but when it was discovered that the image had been digitally altered, things took a nasty turn. The world seemed even more sure than ever that something nefarious had occurred or was occurring involving the Princess of Wales.

Middleton was even forced to issue an apology, writing on social media, “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day.”

Fast forward to when the full story finally came out and the internet was put to shame for its bad behavior and rampant rumors: The princess has cancer.

As a royal reporter, I found (and find) all of these events extremely upsetting. But even more so, it’s become clear to me that Buckingham Palace has been forever changed by this incident (doubtless, a number of the more careless reporters who speculated and celebs who created memes have been changed as well).

Take today’s news about Princess Anne for example. This morning, Buckingham Palace issued a statement reading, “The Princess Royal has sustained minor injuries and concussion following an incident on the Gatcombe Park estate yesterday evening. Her Royal Highness remains in Southmead Hospital, Bristol, as a precautionary measure for observation and is expected to make a full and swift recovery.”

Certainly royal well-wishers are relieved to hear that she is alright and expected to recover fully. But the speed and level of detail with which the news came prove one undeniable fact: The palace has no choice but to be fully transparent.

What were once personal or private health matters that might be kept from the public are now automatically shared on social media as soon as possible. Why? After the Princess Catherine debacle, it seems unthinkable that the palace would allow the conspiracy theorists to take charge of the news cycle once again. So yes, it has been a big year for royal health news, part of it due to the unprecedented nature of both Catherine and Charles’s diagnoses but also a large part of it due to the fact that the royals now have no choice but to keep us informed—and quickly, before “sources” are quoted and things begin to spiral.

Yes, I’m fully aware that the royals are public figures (who receive public money) and therefore a certain level of scrutiny is to be expected. But for better or worse, the Princess of Wales developments from earlier this year have changed the royal family—and its PR machine—for good. I’ll stay tuned for updates from the palace.

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