Kate rumours 'worst I've ever seen' for anyone, says her former spokesman

The Prince and Princess of Wales have requested privacy after social media had been awash with theories about her whereabouts.

The speculation and pressure around Kate, the Princess of Wales’s health and whereabouts before her video statement was 'the worst I’ve ever seen,' Paddy Harverson said. (PA)
The speculation and pressure around Kate, the Princess of Wales's health and whereabouts before her video statement was 'the worst I’ve ever seen', Paddy Harverson said. (PA)

The rumours surrounding the Princess of Wales before she announced her cancer diagnosis were the worst ever suffered by a public figure, her former representative has suggested.

Paddy Harverson, who was previously the official spokesman for Kate and the Prince and Princess of Wales, criticised the "permanent doom loop" of social media posts and media reports.

On Friday, the princess revealed she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy. Her announcement was met with a wave of support, which Kensington Palace later said she and William were "enormously touched by".

However, they also requested privacy. This came after social media had previously been awash with theories about her whereabouts, with conspiracies further fuelled when Kensington Palace released a Mother's Day photograph of Kate and her three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – which it later emerged had been edited.

Asked whether the responsibility for the pressure on Kate ahead of her video announcement lay with social media or mainstream media, Harverson told the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: "Well, it feeds off itself. It's a sort of permanent doom loop. And it's the worst I've ever seen. And I've been in the media all of my career."

Watch: Princess of Wales announces she is being treated for cancer

He said: "What frustrates me... they are a family. They are really a bit like you and I. Lots of families have dealt with this and what families need when they are facing cancer is time: time to come to terms with it individually, as a couple and then with their children.

"That took quite a bit of time. In that period, they needed to be quiet, they needed to be able to process this. And then it was a question of: 'When do we tell everyone else?'"

But he added: "I'm absolutely convinced that [even] if we hadn't had all the madness on social media, if we hadn't had the Mother’s Day photo mistake, they would have still done it [the video announcement] like this. They would have still waited 'til this last Friday when the schools [were] breaking up, to make the announcement."

'Inhumanity of social media'

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the US Center for Countering Digital Hate, has said the speculation surrounding Kate before her announcement was a demonstration of the "inhumanity" of social media.

He told the same programme: "When you've got a young lady like the Princess of Wales who has clearly 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.

"What really annoyed me was seeing that she was then being 're-victimised' by being blamed for not having come out immediately. And of course a family needs to have its time and its privacy.

"I think it's the inhumanity of the way social media has made us behave, forcing people to talk about things that can be very deeply personal. And also seeing the impact of that on our society – how quickly it was picked up by millions of people and how much it has done damage to the Royal Family themselves."

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