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The Penndulum

What is going on with Kate Middleton?

The Effect of Social Media on Conspiracy Theories
Prince+William%2C+left%2C+and+Catherine%2C+Princess+of+Wales%2C+in+London+in+November.+
Los Angeles Times (Chris Jackson / Associated Press)
Prince William, left, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, in London in November.

Recently, Kate Middleton and the British Royal Family have received an uproar of attention from the public because of a conspiracy that Middleton is missing. Middleton has been a member of the British Royal family for 13 years and has gained a positive reputation. She is often admired for her grace, elegance, charitable work, and role as a mother to her children; so, when she hadn’t been seen since Christmas Day, people began to worry. The worry only grew when Kensington Palace announced that she had been admitted to the London Clinic for abdominal surgery and would remain there for up to two weeks before continuing her recovery at home. When she had not been publicly seen after those two weeks, the public came to realize that there had been irregular, vague updates from the British royal family and unconvincing, possibly AI-generated pictures of her. This caused some to believe that she went missing, sparking a conspiracy.

This conspiracy has not only become a daily topic of interest for the British but for Americans as well. Emily Cattie, a senior at Pennridge High School, has kept up with the situation and has thoughts of her own. Cattie says, “I believe that Kate is not missing but intentionally hiding.” Although Cattie is intrigued by the situation, she has not gotten caught up in a spiral with it the way others have. For example, the social media platform “X” now supports “communities,” which are groups of people that scheme about the situation. One community called “Where TF is Kate Middleton” has attracted 4,400 members already. Much of the conspiracy stems from people on social media spiraling down “the royal rabbit hole” and indulging in their “guilty pleasure.”
However, others are not as invested in conspiracies. Molly Bross, another senior at Pennridge, is not as knowledgeable about Middleton’s situation and thinks that social media blows things out of proportion. Bross says, “…with Kate, social media used it as entertainment.” She also adds, “The internet overhypes them [conspiracy theories] without knowing if they’re true or not.” These ideas combined cause people like Bross to get frustrated with conspiracies and not even bother trying to keep up with them in the first place.

As a consequence of the spiraling and increased attention from the media, the Palace began making more statements about Middleton. However, most of the announcements were still vague and simply explained that she was doing well. This continued until Friday when Kensington Palace announced the devastating news that Middleton is receiving cancer treatment. When the news became public in March, the Princess made a video message explaining the situation, thanking everyone for the well wishes and ensuring everyone that she has a strong medical team. However, the palace said they will not be sharing what type of cancer Kate has because “‘The Princess has a right to medical privacy, as we all do.’” Now, knowing more of the truth, the conspiracy theories are expected to die down.

The biggest takeaway from this situation is to be aware of the spiraling effect social media can have, how it can blow things out of proportion, and how it can disturb peoples’ personal lives. It is likely that Middleton and her family wanted privacy after hearing the heart-wrenching news, but because of the conspiracies on social media, they were forced to share personal information, possibly before they were ready. All in all, it is important to be mindful when sharing an opinion online and to make sure there is concrete evidence to back it up.

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/15/world/kate-middleton-news-controversy-cec/index.html

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-kate-middleton-conspiracy-theory-swirl

https://people.com/palace-responds-kate-middleton-conspiracy-theories-online-surgery-recovery-rare-statement-8602191
https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/a60282131/kate-middleton-cancer-diagnosis-treatment-timeline/

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About the Contributor
Anna Croyle, Student Writer
Anna Croyle, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include playing soccer, hanging out with friends and family, going to the beach, watching movies, and attending YoungLife, NHS, and Key Club. Anna plans to attend Syracuse University to study sports management and play soccer.

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