Online trolls still targeting Kate ‘for not revealing cancer diagnosis sooner’

An expert on cyber extremism said the ‘inhumanity’ of social media had led the royal to make her statement

Holly Evans
Sunday 24 March 2024 17:46 GMT
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Princess Kate announces cancer diagnosis

The Princess of Wales has been “revictimised” by online trolls, who have blamed her for not revealing her cancer diagnosis sooner, a leading social media expert has said.

On Friday evening, Kate released a pre-recorded video statement and told the public she had begun preventative chemotherapy treatment after cancer was discovered following her major abdominal surgery in January.

It came after weeks of speculation and conspiracy theories regarding her absence from public duties.

Kate has been ‘revictimised’ for revealing her cancer diagnosis (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, said that baseless claims about the princess and her family had been able to reach “millions and millions of people” through social media.

Mr Ahmed, speaking on the BBC television programme Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, said: “When you’ve got a young lady, the Princess of Wales, who has suffered a medical emergency, you see people flooding in with conspiracy theories, you see them being amplified on social media platforms and pushed to millions and millions of people.”

Online trolls have criticised the princess for failing to disclose her cancer until Friday (AP)

“What really, I think, annoyed me was seeing that she was then being revictimised by being blamed for not having come out immediately.

“Of course, a family needs to have its time and its privacy.

“I think it’s the inhumanity of the way that social media has made us behave, forcing people to talk about things that can be very deeply personal.

“And also seeing, of course, the impact of that on our society, how quickly it was picked up by millions of people, and how much it’s done damage to the royal family themselves.”

While the princess and her husband Prince William are understood to have known about her condition for some time, her recorded statement was deliberately timed to coincide with the beginning of the Easter school holidays.

This ensured that their three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, could spend time with their parents away from the public eye.

Speaking on the same programme, Paddy Harverson, who was previously the official spokesperson of Kate and the Prince of Wales, responded as to whether the pressure comes from social media or mainstream media.

“Well, it feeds off itself,” he said. “It’s a sort of permanent doom loop. And it’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”

(Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

However, he added that the royal family still would have made the announcement in the same way, even without the pressure.

“I’m absolutely convinced that if we hadn’t had all the madness and social media, if we hadn’t had the Mother’s Day photo mistake, they would have still done it like this,” he said.

“They would have still waited till this last Friday when the schools are breaking up to make the announcement.”

Rumours online about the princess intensified after William pulled out of attending the memorial service of his godfather the late King Constantine II of Greece on 27 February.

It is now understood the prince’s last-minute decision not to attend was related to his wife’s condition, but it is not known when the princess was told about the positive test for cancer.

Further speculation was triggered after a Mother’s Day image of the princess and their children was removed from a number of picture agencies after it was found to have been manipulated. Following demands for an explanation, Kate admitted to “editing” the official photograph and apologised.

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