Kate’s grave mistake during hospital stay


The Princess of Wales remains in hospital after undergoing mystery surgery and the crisis has revealed something concerning.

You might think that writing about the royal family is a gig that requires work like fact-checking the pedigree of race horses or working out which King George gave Clive of India the green light to steal the subcontinent (number II for the record) but golly it takes a gal strange places. Strange places like the UK’s National Health Services web page on enlarged prostate.

Mine eyes! Those are some graphics you can’t unsee in a hurry.

The past ten days have injected a distinctly medical flavour into proceedings after first Kate the Princess of Wales and then King Charles announced, only an hour and a half apart, that they were having surgery.

At the time of writing, the princess is currently in the London Clinic having undergone some mystery abdominal surgery while His Majesty was set to undergo a procedure to treat an enlarged prostate.

King Charles and Kate Middleton are both undergoing procedures. Picture: Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP

Two big things happened subsequently to these boulder-sized curveballs. First, Prince William turned up to see his wife and was photographed driving away in a car so sleek and black it looked like he had nicked it from Batman’s garage. All despite being a man who looks like he enjoys spending his spare time refolding his jumper collection

And secondly, the NHS’ website was busy groaning under a massive surge of traffic, all thanks to Charles.

The statement put out by Buckingham Palace about the King read in part, “In common with thousands of men each year, the King has sought treatment for an enlarged prostate,” the statement said.

The day before some Palace PA was taking this all down in careful shorthand, the NHS web page detailing information about enlarged prostates had 1,414 visits. In the 24 hours after His Majesty’s news was made public that surged to 16,410 visits or an increase of over 1000 per cent for those of you who don’t carry a pocket abacus.

How many of those men (or concerned loved ones) will now visit their GP to discuss their symptoms? How many lives might Charles have helped to save by putting the prostate on the front page this week?

It’s an organ I don’t particularly want to talk about or think about any more than you but this situation tells us something very important – Kate really botched her handling of her hospital stay.

Kate has repeatedly shown a distinct willingness to share the briefest slivers of her internal world with the masses. Picture: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/.

Big mistake, huge

The abdomen starts with the liver and ends somewhere colon-ish, meaning that there are umpteen reasons why the princess might currently be laid up and enjoying midmorning tele in a pristine starched white room full of bleepy machines and enough flower arrangements to kit out Westminster Abbey.

No one who is not in the Middleton family chat knows exactly what is troubling the mother-of-three and I can’t help but think that the princess has wasted an enormous opportunity here.

Kate could possibly have made a huge difference this month and she has chosen not to.

Yes, yes, she is a princess, a future Queen and a woman destined to end up having a Tube line named after her but she is still human and thus still is entitled to privacy. She has every right to not have to air her every sniffle, ache and minor rash with the leering public or is not obligated to have her staff put out a press release every time she might get some light symptoms of IBS.

However, when the former part-time accessories buyer and organiser of a charity roller disco (hey presto, LinkedIn’s least endorsed CV!) married William, she was not just signing up for a lifetime of pretending to care about Aston Villa matches but one hell of a job too.

Monarchy in the 20th and 21st centuries is an awkward, maladroit thing, modernity not exactly rubbing along naturally with a feudal, inherited system of extreme privilege and wealth. Somehow though, without anyone ever explicitly agreeing to it or singing on a detail line, an unspoken contract was worked out: The royal family would use their exalted titles and position to try and make the world just a smidgen better for citizenry and not go about gloating in one of their gold carriages.

This is the tacit trade that was made: The Crown & Co. get to keep the palaces, the country estates by the dozen, the tens of thousands of acres of land and the world’s largest collection of da Vinci sketches (true story) and in return they would spend most afternoons plugging away at doing their bit for homelessness or diabetes or donkey rescue charities.

Thus, when the King instructed his private secretary to tell the world about his enlarged nether region (no, no one tell me where the prostate actually is) he was upholding his end of this deal, putting himself in a position that he probably wouldn’t have fancied, like benign dispatched off by his office to open a biscuit factory in Cumberland.

I just wish Kate had done the same thing.

Kate Middleton’s silence on the specifics of her mystery hospital stay is a missed opportunity. Picture: Eddie Mulholland – WPA Pool/.

Why the mystery?

All that has been made known by Kensington Palace about the princess is that whatever is wrong with her is non-cancerous, a detail I’m assuming they only released to prevent mass panic in the aisles of Asda. Tamping down public fears is good and all that but hardly goes much of a ways for such a huge missed opportunity.

The princess has wholly passed up on the chance to raise awareness about whatever might be bedevilling her right now and to possibly also destigmatise whatever illness might be ailing her.

Charles, in making me type the word ‘prostate’ far too often, has done the world a great service. So why hasn’t Kate?

What is strange is that the 42-year-old mum has devoted much of her royal career to doing exactly this, like a brave knight on a charger, lance at the ready.

In 2016 she, William and the man formerly known as an HRH, Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex, founded their mental health charity Heads Together. As the Prince of Wales said later of the founding “We realised no one was talking about it, no one wanted to talk about it” and that “Catherine, Harry, and I put our necks on the line”.

In 2016 Kate, William and Prince Harry founded their mental health charity Heads Together. Picture: Luke MacGregor – WPA Pool/.

Since then Kate has repeatedly shown a distinct willingness to share the briefest slivers of her internal world with the masses in the name of the Greater Good, which is a huge step for a family business so hidebound they probably leave the room to use a tissue.

Take, for example, the Princess of Wales having talked about her struggle after having her first child, Prince George and living in rural Wales. In 2020 she said, “I had a tiny, tiny baby in the middle of Anglesey … It was so isolated, so cut off. I didn’t have any family around, and [William] was doing night shifts.”

She also appeared on a podcast around the same time revealing that she suffered from mum guilt and her “mixed emotions” about having to appear in front of a phalanx of hundreds of photographers nearly immediately after giving birth. (No one has ever suggested that Kate has anything but a titanium backbone.)

Which is why it’s disappointing that Kate is not willing to now similarly embrace more of a policy of transparency and openness.

Should Kate be more like Meghan?

Charles has rightly been praised in the UK for using his diagnosis to help others – I just wish that the Princess of Wales had done the same.

Reading this, I know you royal purists out there will be sputtering that even what Kensington Palace put out about Kate is a departure from Her late Majesty’s approach.

Remember back in October 2021 when the late Queen was hospitalised overnight, a fact that only came out after the Sun somehow got wind of it and did their whole ‘front page splash with moon landing-worthy font’ thing.

After her death, writer and royal intimate Gyles Brandreth revealed that the last Queen had actually been suffering from a form of bone marrow cancer, something that Buckingham Palace was never, ever in a million, jillion years going to reveal.

I get it, striking a balance between privacy and duty is a toughie but that is the whole box and dice of being royal.

If only Kate had considered the example of her sister-in-law Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, a sentence that I cannot remember having typed for positively yonks.

If only Kate had considered the example of her sister-in-law Meghan the Duchess of Sussex. Picture Richard Pohle – WPA Pool/.

In early 2021 the duchess revealed that she had a miscarriage, writing a moving first-person essay for the New York Times. It was vulnerable and brave and was an ironically perfect exemplar of the key precept of royalty: Of using one’s title and the global attention that comes with that make things better for others.

The princess enjoys incredible levels of public support and whatever she might have revealed about her health, I can all but guarantee it would have been met with the outpouring of well wishes and concern that we have seen.

Right now there are probably an untold number of late middle aged British men shifting uncomfortably in their GPs’ waiting rooms as they flick through 2014 copies of Heat who would not be there if it was not for the King’s willingness to put the word ‘prostate’ in a press statement. Bravo Your Majesty, bravo.

And now let’s agree to never talk about the King’s posterior bits ever, ever again.

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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