BBC forced to defend coverage of Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis

People believed broadcaster’s coverage was ‘excessive and insensitive’

Tara Cobham
Saturday 06 April 2024 19:10 BST
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Royal enthusiasts elated to see King Charles at Easter service: ‘He looks so well’

The BBC has been forced to defend its coverage of the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis after receiving complaints from people who believed it was “excessive and insensitive”.

Kate revealed she was undergoing treatment for the disease in an emotional video message released on 22 March, in which she told others battling the disease “you are not alone”, after weeks of frenzied speculation online about her health and whereabouts.

The broadcaster, which had aired the full video, said it was “mindful” of its reporting approach and did not speculate on details that had not been made public.

Kate revealed she was undergoing treatment for the disease in an emotional video message released on 22 March
Kate revealed she was undergoing treatment for the disease in an emotional video message released on 22 March (Independent TV)

In a statement issued on Friday in response to the complaints, the BBC said: “We broadcast in full the highly personal video message from the Princess of Wales, in which she spoke directly to the public about her cancer diagnosis.

“Our coverage reflected the significance of this story and the outpouring of support for the princess from around the globe.

“We explained to our audience what was known about Catherine’s condition, but did not speculate on details that had not been made public.”

Kate, William and their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – were absent from the royal family’s traditional Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel over the weekend
Kate, William and their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – were absent from the royal family’s traditional Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel over the weekend

The corporation detailed its reporting approach and said it always gives “careful consideration” to the editorial decisions made.

“Our reporting made clear that this is a difficult time for the princess and the rest of the royal family; we have been mindful at all times to approach our coverage with sensitivity,” it said.

“As part of our analysis, we examined the intense speculation there had been in the preceding weeks about the princess’s health.

“We also reported on Catherine’s request for privacy and detailed the statement from Kensington Palace regarding the princess having the right to privacy in relation to her medical issues.

“We always give careful consideration to the editorial decisions we make.

“While we have a responsibility to report on stories that are of interest to our audience, we appreciate that not everyone would have approved of the approach we took.”

More rumours were triggered when the princess admitted to ‘editing’ her official family Mother’s Day photograph after multiple international news agencies withdrew the picture
More rumours were triggered when the princess admitted to ‘editing’ her official family Mother’s Day photograph after multiple international news agencies withdrew the picture (Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace/PA Wire)

It comes after weeks of intense speculation online about Kate’s whereabouts and health. The 42-year-old had only been spotted in public three times after she underwent abdominal surgery in January, following which her cancer was discovered.

Conspiracy theories about Kate further spread after William missed, at very short notice, the memorial service of his godfather the late King Constantine of Greece on 27 February due to a personal matter. It has now emerged that the prince pulled out of the event following his wife’s diagnosis.

More rumours were triggered when the princess admitted to “editing” her official family Mother’s Day photograph after multiple international news agencies withdrew the picture.

However, Kate’s announcement of her cancer diagnosis prompted an outpouring of sympathy from around the world and went some way to putting an end to the spreading of outlandish claims.

King Charles announced in February that he had also been diagnosed with cancer, which was discovered when he was being treated for an enlarged prostate
King Charles announced in February that he had also been diagnosed with cancer, which was discovered when he was being treated for an enlarged prostate (PA Wire)

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said the princess and her husband were “both enormously touched” by the public response to her health announcement.

“The prince and princess are both enormously touched by the kind messages from people here in the UK, across the Commonwealth and around the world in response to Her Royal Highness’ message,” the statement said.

“They are extremely moved by the public’s warmth and support and are grateful for the understanding of their request for privacy at this time.”

Kate, William and their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – were absent from the royal family’s traditional Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel which was attended by King Charles and the Queen who were applauded by crowds after attending the mass.

The monarch announced in February that he had also been diagnosed with cancer, which was discovered when he was being treated for an enlarged prostate.

Following Kate’s announcement, Charles was said to be “proud” of his “beloved” daughter-in-law for her “courage” in speaking about her diagnosis, with the two remaining in close contact during their treatment.

With the head of state and the future queen both receiving treatment for undisclosed forms of cancer, the royal family faces an uncertain period – but the monarchy is expected to rally around those at the heart of the institution.

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