Speculation about the Princess of Wales was the worst I have ever seen, says former adviser

The pressure and speculation about the Princess of Wales’ health before she announced her cancer diagnosis was “the worst I have ever seen”, one of her former advisers said.

Catherine, 42, said in a video message on Friday that she was receiving “preventive chemotherapy” after major abdominal surgery in January.

The statement followed weeks of frenzied rumors and conspiracy theories on both social media and traditional media.

Paddy Harverson, previously the official spokesperson for Kate and her husband, the Prince of Wales, said speculation had reached new levels before Friday’s announcement, leading to an outpouring of support worldwide.

During his appearance on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Harverson was asked whether social media or the mainstream media bore most of the responsibility for the pressure on Catherine.

He said, “Well, it feeds on itself… It’s kind of a permanent doom run. And it’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Paddy Harverson appeared on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg to discuss online speculation about the princess. Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Harverson, who was also the king’s communications secretary when he was Prince of Wales, said he believed the royal family would have chosen to make the announcement in the same way even without pressure.

“I absolutely believe that if we hadn’t had all the madness and social media, if we hadn’t had the Mother’s Day photo mistake, they would still have done it that way,” he said. “They still would have waited until last Friday, when schools were dispersed, to make the announcement.”

Catherine and William said on Sunday they were “hugely touched” by the outpouring of support from around the world.

Harvey denied that the institution had become ‘fragile’ as King Charles III and Catherine received cancer treatment. “We just have to come to terms with the new reality, there are fewer of them,” he said.

“So everyone has to kind of understand that they’re still going to be busy, that they’re going to get over this. I have every confidence that the king, who I know well, is incredibly strong, very resilient and a great spiritual person, so I know he will get through it.

‘The same goes for the princess, and for Kate I think once they get through this difficult period we will get back to normal. I think the nation just has to adapt, and the media, and everyone who follows this, to a smaller family, but still very busy doing what they do in their own way.

King Charles has suspended his public duties as he undergoes treatment for cancer. Photo: Alberto Pezzali/AP

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, praised Catherine and the king on Sunday. He also told Laura Kuenssberg: “My thoughts are also with the Princess of Wales and the King, and I think we all admire their incredible stoicism.”

Labor Party leader Anneliese Dodds said she felt “tremendous sympathy” for the princess as she watched her announce her cancer diagnosis on Friday evening.

Online rumors about the princess increased after William canceled his appearance at a memorial service for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, at short notice on February 27.

It is now clear that the prince’s decision not to attend was related to his wife’s condition, but it is not known when the princess was told about the cancer.

Further speculation arose after the princess admitted to ‘editing’ her official Mother’s Day photo, which contained irregularities.

In a further development, the UK’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, launched an investigation into allegations that attempts had been made to access Kate’s personal medical records at the London Clinic, where she was operated on.

It is not known how long Catherine will receive treatment, but it is understood she is keen to attend events as and when she is able, in accordance with medical advice, although this does not mean she will return to full-time work.

William will continue to combine his official duties with caring for the family, as he has done since her operation. He is expected to return to public duties after his children return to school after the Easter holidays.

He and his wife will not attend the royal family’s traditional Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the king hopes to attend with the queen if his health allows.

According to The Telegraph, it is unlikely to be a large family gathering or service as the King has suspended royal duties to the public.

Charles has been receiving treatment for an unknown form of cancer since early February after being treated for an enlarged prostate at the same hospital where Kate underwent abdominal surgery.