A crown that weighs a lot

Many have attributed the phrase that "if your mother tells you she loves you, you better check with a second source", but everything points to the fact that the first person to say it was the editor of the venerable Chicago Tribune in 1970.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 11:24
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A crown that weighs a lot

Many have attributed the phrase that "if your mother tells you she loves you, you better check with a second source", but everything points to the fact that the first person to say it was the editor of the venerable Chicago Tribune in 1970. Half a century later, the pressures of immediacy in the digital age and 24-hour information means that the old maxim is all too often ignored in the race to be the first, but not necessarily the better In any case, Caterina would do well not to trust all those who now say they adore her, and yesterday they left her like a dirty rag for not explaining what her illness was and for having manipulated a photo.

Since announcing last week that she is suffering from an unspecified cancer and the prognosis of which she does not want to share with the people, the Princess of Wales has gone from criticism to compassion and from skepticism to the most absolute love without going through the output box, white or black, without half-tones. But between too little and too much. Her personal and family drama deserves all the affection and sympathy, her right to relative privacy (she is a celebrity funded by British taxpayers) is respectable, but that does not prevent Catherine herself, Kensington Palace and the Windsors from committed monumental mistakes.

The British press and most of the country's public opinion have come out en masse in defense of the wife of the heir to the throne, with considerable guilt and shame for having pressured her to come forward. , censuring the manipulation of the famous Mother's Day photo and echoing the conspiracy theories spread on social networks and even in the mainstream press of many countries (such as Spain). They have put a halo on her as if she were Saint Catherine.

In reality, the vast majority of conspiracy theories about whether she was dead or in a coma and replaced by a double created by artificial intelligence, or that she had been abducted by aliens, were the fruit of twisted minds. The one who had undergone some kind of cosmetic surgery operation, less outlandish, and the rumors about a marital crisis and an affair of Guillem date back to 2019, and whether they are true or false has nothing to do with the fact that he has cancer or not

The British media have made a fuss about Caterina in such a way and with such passion that it is necessary to put a certain distance to be objective. And, in the same way that the foreign press was the one that made a mountain out of his absence for three months and the mysteries surrounding his health and his private life, now it is also the foreign media that can offer a better perspective, and don't let the trees stop you from seeing the forest.

In the UK, newspapers and the Windsors have a mutually dependent relationship, they feed back, they are part of the same ecosystem. Some need to be relevant, and others, to sell copies. This symbiosis turned malignant after Diana's death and the role the paparazzi played (or not) in the high-speed chase through the streets of Paris in 1997. William and Henry do not hide their hatred of the press (they have filed several lawsuits, especially the younger brother), and now the media treat the titular royalty (Carles, Camilla, Guillem and Caterina) with a white glove, leaving the blows for Andreu, and above all for Enric's alternative court to California and Meghan, whom they consider little less than traitors. About two-thirds of Britons are monarchists, but judging by what the newspapers say, it would seem that everyone is, and with a football fanaticism of their own.

One thing is the concern and drama that always means cancer, and another, the mistakes made by Caterina and her environment (the silence for too long, the insistence that it was not cancer, the manipulated photo, the lack of explanations ) in a context in which the press and communications secretaries of kings and princes, tabloid directors and royal correspondents of the more serious media no longer dictate the agenda. People do it on X (formerly Twitter) and in publications such as the American TMZ, dedicated to gossip about the lives of celebrities.

A week after the video of Caterina announcing that she has cancer, the Kategate soufflé has already gone down, as was inevitable. Not only to leave the wounded princess in peace, which is also the case, but above all because the matter is no longer pressing and the cow has been drained of all the milk. Even if things have been done badly, with a total lack of transparency and authenticity, as if the royalty should not deign to give explanations for anything ("don't justify yourself and don't complain" was the motto of 'Elizabeth II), the facts are the facts and, in the face of them, gossip and rumors have nothing to do, or very little. Not even if, as the new conspiracy theories suggest, they are spread by China, Russia or Iran with destabilizing zeal.

With Caterina gone (at least until more things happen) from newspaper covers, radio talk shows, pub conversations and friends' dinners, the country has left the state of suspension and returned to the harsh reality of a indebted and non-productive economy, with little investment, precarious wages (more similar to those of Puerto Rico than those of Switzerland) and abysmal dependence on the service sector; of doctors on strike, who do not see patients in person, and the eight million who are waiting for operations in public health; of the record number of asylum seekers who have crossed the English Channel since the beginning of the year; food banks for those who do not arrive at the end or at the beginning of the month; of crumbling infrastructures and bankrupt councils; of the cultural wars for identity and gender politics; of territorial fragmentation; of the end of a Conservative Government that has been in power for fourteen consecutive years, with five Prime Ministers without elections; of a timid Laborism that always feels provisionally free, even if it is going to win; the increase in crime, corruption, the obstruction of justice, the growing obstacles to freedom of expression and demonstration, and the right to vote; of the chronic lack of housing and skyrocketing rental prices; of the nine million people of working age who are not looking for work and almost three million with permanent disabilities (mainly for mental health reasons); of university graduates in debt up to their eyebrows and without money to buy an apartment and start a family; of the debate about whether environmental measures are too lax or absurdly radical; of the highest taxes in seventy years and the weakest welfare state in memory; of a questioned multiculturalism; of a country with brand weaknesses, overwhelmed by the centrifugal forces of social fracture, the decline of the nation state, democratic recession, geopolitical vertigo, authoritarianism, populism, the demographic bomb and globalism of oat milk... That Great Britain that after World War II, according to the former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, could not find its place in the world, after Brexit it cannot find it either in Europe or at home. He doesn't know what he is or where he wants to go.

In the midst of this crisis of identity and social and economic model, the Kategate has distracted attention for a few weeks with its fairy tales, its stories of princes, princesses, palaces and witches, object of fascination and curiosity to thousands of kilometers around (in the United States, 33 million people followed Diana's funeral on television on the day, and 29 million, the wedding between Henry and Meghan). But tururut twelve hours.

The country is struggling, and so are the Windsors. By itself a short staff with the thinning and reduction of expenses imposed by Carles, the casualties of his captain and Caterina, missing from the stage, with Guillem at half throttle, means a huge burden for Camil·la (76 years old) and for the alternates (Princess Anne and the Dukes of Edinburgh). But the show must go on, like on Broadway, there's no need to cancel and refund the ticket price.

The crown that Charles III has inherited, of solid gold and more than four hundred precious stones, weighs almost two and a half kilos, but these days it would seem much more, on his head, on Catherine's, and on all of Great Britain . Perhaps if Elizabeth II had passed the baton to her son in 2012, at the height of the Olympic Games and William's wedding, when Henry was still a hero for having served in Afghanistan, things would now be different , but at the entrance to all the Windsor palaces there is an invisible sign that says "no one abdicates here".

The good news is that Kategate shows that the vicissitudes of royalty are interesting; the bad thing is that the disease does not spare the young either, and that Charles III is only two years younger than Trump, and six years younger than Biden. The British appreciate their kings, William and Catherine. But if your mother tells you she loves you...