Kate's Transparent Bravery Is Lesson For The Firm


In the wake of Kategate, with its still unsolved mysteries, several London Clinic hospital staff members had been trying, illegally, to get hold of Middleton’s medical records.

So, suddenly last Friday night, we got a video showing Kate as a pale, solitary, extremely thin figure, sitting on a bare bench, stripped of husband, children, fancy dress, pageantry or pomp (save for her very posh accent), wearing commoner basics -- jeans and striped sweater. She spoke to the camera directly, in plain, drama-free language, revealing her cancer diagnosis and subsequent need for preventative chemotherapy, which she had already started.

It was shocking in its directness, and heartbreaking to process. In addition to her illness and treatment, Kate had to take this on: to expose herself to the whole world, alone.



Visually, the video had a slightly ghost-like, bleached-out quality -- but perhaps it was the most transparent The Firm has ever been.

Sadly, it came on the heels of that sham family photo, a new P.R. low, which was so obviously manipulated that the photo agencies had to issue a “kill notice” — an eerie combination of words — to say that they could not distribute it.  And then the Princess had to get re-victimized and take the fall for the “editing.”

By contrast, this footage, shot by the BBC, showed an incredibly strong woman dealing with the worst reality that life could bring her as a mother of three young children, and then revealing it to the world.

I was shattered and reeling for her. I understood that rock-bottom disbelief, because I had been diagnosed with breast cancer when I was younger and had a young teen son.

You go through phases of denial and determination. But overriding everything was my desperation to live to raise my son. And it does take a while after surgery to visit various doctors, get new tests and scans, wait for results, and come up with a treatment plan, never mind start it. That process could easily take months.

Imagine dealing with the rigors of being a Royal, figuring out the best way to handle it as a family,  and having it miserably magnified, as Kate did.

I hated telling people about my diagnosis because (and these were kind and compassionate people) I would get a look of pity, and I didn’t want that. Plus, you can’t believe how many people inform you that you must be wrong, and to go for another test or to another doctor.  Imagine an internet full of such opinions, benign compared with the rants and theories out there.

The only helpful thing to say to a person who opens up about a cancer diagnosis is “How can I help?” And then offer to send over a meal.

And after the video, people in Britain and all over the world wanted to jump through the screen to help. And also to absolve themselves of their own guilt from indulging in Kate-bashing, as if getting ill, or releasing that photo, had been her idea.

It’s not the first time the press had been unkind to this Windsor woman, of course. When she dated William, they called her “Waity-Katey,” and accused her of being a social climber and a gold digger.

We’re not monarchical, so we don’t get how much about bloodlines and breeding the institution is. Her body was considered public property, a sum of her reproductive parts.

On top of that, with the King’s simultaneous cancer, she and William have to worry about possibly moving into those roles, and the enormous exposure for their children, who are dealing with their mother’s illness.

Of course, the Palace has yet to come clean about what type of cancer Charles or Catherine have, and what stage.

It was unenlightened and needlessly archaic for the Palace to do the cover-ups (worse in Kate’s case) in the first place. It made the existence of cancer a tragic, unspoken thing.

The most oblivious press response came in an opinion piece in TheNew York Times by Pamela Paul. She wrote: “Kate’s terrible news shouldn’t just make us feel terrible for Kate; it should also make us feel terrible about ourselves.”

She meant that Americans have insatiable appetites for dirt on the Royals. But I can’t imagine Kate has “scold Americans” on the top of her list.

It's human to hear this news and make it about yourself. But one thing remains: Belief in institutions like the monarchy is collapsing.

The Palace had a chance to clear up the stigma of cancer by facing it openly and plainly, which would help educate and support others struggling with a recent diagnosis or treatment.

It took solitary Kate, with her fierce honesty and determination, to show everyone a new way. And long may she reign.

2 comments about "Kate's Transparent Bravery Is Lesson For The Firm".
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  1. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY, March 26, 2024 at 10:20 a.m.

    I was looking forward to your point of view on this. I, too, thought Kate was pitch-perfect in her announcement and felt a new regard for her afterward. I'd love to know whose idea it was for her to come forward alone and unadorned (you forgot to mention her magnificent hair, which I was quietly pleased to see she'd taken some time with, a visual representation of how she's fighting back against her disease). I also wonder who may have helped her draft her remarks. The act and the words felt very personal and reminded of times the late queen addressed the public with similar no-frills directness during difficult times. Kate's coming forward was a great example of effective issues-management, and also a moment that revealed her character. I always suspected she's "better" than many of the other royals (I remember her keeping her composure when Camilla, Zara and Beatrice were openly smirking at some of the music choices during Harry and Meagan's wedding). Now I know for sure that I both like and admire her.  

  2. Barbara Lippert from, March 26, 2024 at 10:33 a.m.

    Thanks, Cynithia. I agree completly. I didn't mention her hair because I thought it was a wig. It was much longer and had different kind of curuls than her own. The other thing I didn't mention was how many opiners went out of their way to diss Meghan while discussing Kate. I'm happy to hear that she kept her composure at the wedding. 

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