Conspiracies to compassion: How the tone in the US has changed after Kate’s cancer announcement

Following weeks of intense speculation, not just on social media but by some news outlets, too, there has been a change in tone from the US in its coverage of the Princess of Wales’s health.

As in the UK, Kate’s cancer diagnosis dominated the major broadcasters and newspapers on Friday.

It is a definite shift from the coverage that has played out in recent weeks, as jokes were made and conspiracy theories spread following the release of the now infamous doctored Mother’s Day photo from Kensington Palace.

The aim of the picture was to quell speculation about the princess’s abdominal surgery – but it fanned the flames when news agencies pulled it over the editing.

While rumours about Kate‘s health and personal life played out on social media here, in the US there were major celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively sharing comments, and the rumours even made it to the mainstream.

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Blake Lively posted this apology via an Instagram story after she commented on the "photoshop fails frenzy" following the release of a photograph that was edited by Kate, the Princess of Wales. Pic: Blake Lively / Instagram
Blake Lively posted this apology via an Instagram story. Pic: Blake Lively / Instagram

Blake Lively arrives for the Michael Kors Fall/Winter 2024 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Blake Lively pictured in February. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the host made jokes about the royals, while the satirical news programme The Daily Show also aired a six-minute segment on the situation.

Andy Cohen, host of US talk show Watch What Happens Live!, also tweeted “That ain’t Kate…” after pictures emerged of the Princess of Wales shopping with Prince William at a farm shop in Windsor.

The View host Whoopi Goldberg, however, took a more serious approach, suggesting conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the photo were not kind.

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Prince William and Kate at a farm shop in Windsor

Entertainment site TMZ aired a documentary, TMZ Investigates: Where Is Kate Middleton? on Fox on Thursday night, featuring comments from broadcaster Piers Morgan and Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, as well as a US surgeon.

Some details of the show now appear to have been taken down from the TMZ website.

And two podcasters who were sharing regular commentary and conspiracy theories have taken down their content from social media.

Sky News analysis found the number of mentions in the US of “Kate Middleton” on Facebook and Instagram on the day before the photo was released (9 March) was about 2,600 – the day after (11 March), there were more than 128,000 mentions.

Now, the tone in America has changed, with an outpouring of support and well-wishes being shared from around the world.

On Friday evening, hashtags including “WeLoveYouCatherine” and “GetWellSoonCatherine” were trending on X, formerly Twitter – the same website which played host to much of the fevered speculation earlier in the month.

Kate’s diagnosis was among the top stories run by the major broadcasters including CNN, CBS and Fox News on Saturday morning, and the headlines will no doubt continue throughout the weekend.

On CNN’s website, a segment is dedicated to Kate’s diagnosis and “what we know”, including commentary from royal and medical experts. CBS is running the story, as well as an article on doctors’ “insights”.

CNN is running an article titled The Princess of Wales' cancer diagnosis: What we know. Pic: CNN
CNN is running an article titled The Princess of Wales’ cancer diagnosis: What we know. Pic: CNN

Read more from Sky News:
How events unfolded before announcement
Kate has ‘taken time’ to explain cancer to her children
What is preventative chemotherapy? Experts explain

Harry and Meghan, who now live in the US, were among the thousands of well-wishers sharing messages of support following the princess’s announcement, releasing a simple statement that referenced the noise that has surrounded her in recent weeks – a situation they know all too well themselves.

“We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace,” they said.

The US headlines – and the internet – are now looking to “be kind”.

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As the future queen, Kate will never have a typical private life – but hopefully now she can continue her treatment away from the chaos of conspiracy.

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