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A conspiracy for the whole family

The British royal family obviously aren’t strangers to media coverage.

Indeed, the late Prince Philip is widely credited with cultivating a closer, if still arm’s length, relationship with the press after Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in the early 1950s, starting with him successfully advocating for the televising of her coronation – a ceremony the hoi polloi previously hadn’t been privy to much of at all.

For the majority of the time since, the royals have adroitly managed their press appearances to shore up their relevance in the eyes of their ‘subjects’.

Of course, the Windsors’ relationship with the media has had its ups and downs over the years – not least during the bust-up of Princess Diana’s marriage to the then-Prince Charles and its aftermath – but for the most part, a delicate détente has been maintained.

Given its recent fraying, this now appears to have largely been the result of an enduring respect for Queen Elizabeth II and the sense of comforting continuity her long reign provided.

Absent the late queen, that forelock-tugging respect has appeared increasingly absent, with a visible decrease in deference exacerbated first by the highly public schism between Harry and the rest of ‘The Firm’ and now seemingly in overdrive due to the ‘disappearance’ of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales.

Of course, Kensington Palace did announce the princess had to have abdominal surgery two months ago and that she’d be out of the public eye until around Easter as a result. But since then, what appear to be unforced public relations errors on the part of the palace have served to fuel the flames of speculation about her health and wellbeing, rather than dampen them down.

The revelation a photograph released on Mother’s Day of the princess with her three children had been digitally altered – and, in an unprecedented move, was rejected by global news agencies as a result – is without a doubt the worst of these, prompting a number of questions that would’ve otherwise presumably gone unasked. If she’s really well on the way to recovery, why release a fake photo? Is she in a much worse state than claimed? And so on, and so forth.

Suspicions of … something … thus aroused, a couple of more recently released photos that appear to show, respectively, Kate with her mum and husband have since also been greeted with scepticism – cyber sleuths on the case claiming they are old photos or have been altered.

The announcement a month ago that King Charles has cancer and his subsequent temporary retirement from public duties also appears to have unsettled many – which is hardly surprising, given the main function of the royals appears to be serving as some kind of psychic security blanket for an infantilised population.

All things considered, the especially outrageous conspiracy theories now doing the rounds on the internet – the Wales are getting divorced due to Prince William’s wayward ways, for example – are almost uncertainly untrue. But ultimately, who knows? And who cares?

Well, apparently many people do, although this writer isn’t one of them, despite admitting to a long fascination with the British royals.

That’s not due to any adoration, mind you, but a profound puzzlement about why – in an era that’s apparently all about equality and equity and dismantling privilege – a family whose claim to authority rests pretty much entirely on antiquated ideas about eugenics should still exercise such influence.

Maybe now is the moment to reassess that?

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