New York: Saturday, April 13, 2024
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GOSSIP & RUMORS: Proof Kate Middleton and Prince William have lost it: opinion

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For a long time, Kate the Princess of Wales and her late grandmother-in-law Queen Elizabeth had little in common.

One believed in dogged hard-work; the other spent a few too many years lolling about Mustique languidly applying Ambre Solaire sun tan lotion.

One never had any jot of formal education beyond conversational French and basic instruction in how to invade France; the other had a respectable second-class art history degree.

One saw herself as a supplicant to God and country; the other ended up on the path to Queendom via a catwalk lap in her panties.

No longer. This week Kate has been put through the wringer, spat out the other side and brutally meme-ified, in a reversal of fortune of such a magnitude that it is only a matter of time before we get the inevitable hasty, mop-up stage plays, books and some sort of cheaply made biopic. (Content is indeed king.)

There has been mass speculation about Kate Middleton’s whereabouts. AP

Translation: Kate is currently having a moment sadly similar to the one the late Queen endured in 1997 after Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in Paris.

Her late Majesty’s handling of Diana’s death – her utter refusal to respond to national grief; the unfeeling shell she wore for the cameras – was such that for a while there was no guarantee that Buckingham Palace would remain standing.

Kate, for the first time, must have a sense of what that experience was like – to get things so badly and so publicly wrong.

It took Queen Elizabeth years upon years to recoup the lost ground.

How long will it take for the princess and Prince William, the Prince of Wales to recover from the train wreck of the last couple of weeks? Moreover, how do they even start?

Shortly after this picture was posted on social media, users discovered that Kate was photoshopped into the image. Prince of Wales/Kensington Palac / MEGA

Let’s all agree: the Waleses have mishandled and bungled the last few weeks. Their credibility is shot and the large stores of public faith and belief they had built up over the last decade have just been vaporized.

In the process, they have also inadvertently lent credence to the longtime grumblings of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, about the string-pulling and wily puppeteering that goes on behind the palace walls.

Reputation-wise, William and Kate have just suffered their biggest blow to date – and it is wholly by their own hand. (The schadenfreude has truly overrun social media …)

William and Kate have just suffered their biggest blow to date in regards to their reputation. Getty Images

Yes, none of what the prince and princess have done has been particularly malicious or all that tricky.

William clearly wants to protect Kate who has been through surgery significant enough to warrant months off work.

Yes, they were just trying to get a grip on the noxious conspiracy theories that have taken over the social media bloodstream.

Of course, all the princess wanted to do was to share a nice, heartwarming photo of herself and her children to prove that she was doing nothing more controversial than drinking tea.

And c’mon, what photos these days aren’t tweaked and buffed for public consumption?

However, none of this changes the end result – of the prince and princess looking like they have been caught red-handed obscuring or at least blurring the truth.

We might tacitly know that they and their Kensington Palace office have always been in the business of propagandizing but they have just been exposed doing the actual deed.

The madding crowd – getting madding-er by the hour – has responded by adopting a state of malignant skepticism and trolling the Waleses with breathtaking creativity and zeal.

The prince and princess look like they have been caught red-handed obscuring or at least blurring the truth. Getty Images

The events of this week mean that the prince and princess have not just eroded trust in whatever they say or share going forward, but, more importantly, trust in Crown Inc. as a whole. (Is Buckingham Palace the new Area 51?)

The question that someone with an HRH should be demanding of their large staff of highly experienced functionaries and pen pushers is, how the hell do they start to fix this?

How do they start to push back against this week’s recasting of the royal family as a slightly shifty bunch intent on pulling the organic Scottish wool over the world’s eyes?

How do they get back to a place where they are believed and taken at face value?

Going forward, whatever blueprints and memos are carefully typed up by the sweating palace professionals who let this Hindenburg of a situation combust on their watch, one factor they won’t be able to control is time.

Any sort of recovery or rebuilding of William and Kate’s reputation is going to take a while.

Unlike the Sussexes, the Waleses have built up the highest of high walls around themselves. AP

Unlike the Sussexes, who have made a name for themselves sharing, sharing, sharing (oh-so-much sharing) for cameras, microphones, checkbooks and in service of their seemingly perpetual need to cathart, the Waleses have built up the highest of high walls around themselves.

They might occasionally make personal comments but the control they have for so long exercised over their brand and their lives means that they don’t have recourse at this moment to do some sort of heart-on-the-sleeve media outing to try and clear the air.

What lies ahead for the Prince and Princess of Wales is a process that is not going to be painless or fast or easily managed via an economical personal Tweet.

If there is one lesson that the Waleses should have learned over the past seven days is that whatever control they thought they had over their image and their messaging has been lost. William and Kate are going to have to rebuild confidence and trust, brick after clichéd brick, and have no choice but to suck up the slog ahead of them.

If only the late Queen was still alive, I’m sure she would have some sage words about royalty and having to take one’s lumps in the face of an irritable, nasty world.

But I also bet her advice would be simple: Have a triple gin and tonic and nice hot bath. This too shall pass. Even the memes.

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