Kate and William need time and space to heal, says former royal spokesperson

  • By Joshua Cheatham
  • BBC News

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Following Catherine's cancer diagnosis, the couple were said to be “overwhelmed” by the public support

Following Catherine's cancer diagnosis, people should give the Prince and Princess of Wales “time to heal”, a former royal spokesman has said.

Paddy Harverson, who previously worked for the couple, defended Kensington Palace's handling of the announcement.

“It's not just a company, it's a family… you have to remember they're human beings too,” he told the BBC.

Catherine said on Friday that she had started treatment after speculation about her health.

He said the cancer was diagnosed after a stomach surgery.

Meanwhile, the king's son-in-law, Peter Phillips, told Sky News Australia that Charles was in “good spirits” but was “disappointed” that medical treatment was preventing him from returning to royal duties.

Both were treated at the same time at the London Clinic private hospital.

“I think I'm biased, some of them are friends of mine, but I think it's very difficult when you're in that situation,” Mr Harverson told the BBC's Laura Kuensberg program on Sunday.

“You have to give them space, so when there's communication… you have to remember that they're human too and you have to follow their lead to a certain extent,” he added.

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Former royal spokesman Paddy Harverson criticized the “perpetual death loop” of speculation on social media about Kate's health.

The couple faced intense public speculation about Catherine's health in January, when she underwent surgery in January.

Catherine, 42, has not attended any official events since Christmas.

A photo of her and her children, which was posted on Mother's Day, caused a stir on social media due to the discrepancies in the picture.

In a statement, Catherine later apologized for the “confusion” caused by the photo, adding that “like many amateur photographers, I occasionally experiment with editing.”

Sun editor Victoria Newton told the BBC that Catherine decided to make her children's cancer announcement on the last day of school two weeks ago.

“Her priority was to protect her three children. She didn't want them to be asked to go to school any more than they already were,” Mrs. Newton explained to Laura Guensberg.

The Times, citing a “close friend” of Catherine's, reports that the princess decided to record a video message rather than issue a statement, and that she wrote “every word of it” without input from advisers.

Mr Harverson said he had “no problem” with how the royal family had handled the announcement of Catherine's diagnosis, and criticized the “perpetual death loop” of speculation on social media.

“She wanted the film to be as good as possible and she apologized for it, so everyone should have moved on,” he said. “I think we need to give them time and space.”

Mr Harverson challenged the notion that the royal family was too fragile due to recent illnesses.

“We have to come to terms with the new reality that there are fewer of them,” he said.

“They will get through this,” he added. “I am sure that the king, whom I know well, is incredibly strong, very determined, a great spiritual person.”

Days after publishing a video of Kate and William at a farm shop in Windsor, The Sun has called for “social media trolls, silly conspiracy theorists and sniping media critics” to “fire Kate”.

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WATCH: Princess of Wales' full video message

Ms Newton defended her decision to release the video.

“Changing the narrative is very important,” Ms Newton told the BBC. “Many in the media started saying 'back of the gate'”.

He said he had been in touch with Kensington Palace before the release and was assured that “we will have no problem running those films”.

Meanwhile, Imran Ahmed, who appeared on The Laura Kuenssberg Show on Sunday, discussed the claims that have gone viral on social media about Catherine in recent weeks and warned of the dangers of the sites.

Mr Ahmed, chief executive of the Center to Counter Digital Hate, insisted that social media was “designed to take highly controversial information… and push it forward”, making certain topics and viewpoints appear more popular than they really are.

“Social media is not vox populi, it is not a place to get safe and intelligent information. It can deeply distort the world as a lens,” Mr Ahmed said.

He said social media companies have ways to deal with the spread of harmful conspiracy theories on their platform, “but they don't choose to”.

Separately, a Kensington Palace spokesman said the Prince and Princess of Wales were “deeply touched” by the good news they had received and were “grateful for your understanding of their request for privacy at this time”.

The couple have already said they will not be attending Easter Sunday services this year. It is unclear whether King Charles will take his family to church.

Buckingham Palace say they are “hopeful” he will be able to join his family by the end of next week.

The King has said he is “very proud” of his “beloved daughter-in-law” and that he and Camilla are in “close contact” with her.

The BBC understands William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have reached out to him since his diagnosis.

you can Watch the BBC News special On BBC iPlayer, now about how the Princess of Wales revealed her cancer diagnosis in a video message to the nation – 'Kate's Cancer Diagnosis'.

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