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Kate Middleton and King Charles' candid hospital announcements reveal how much the royal family has changed

Kate Middleton and King Charles' candid hospital announcements reveal how much the royal family has changed
  • Buckingham and Kensington Palace announced Kate Middleton and King Charles are facing health issues.

  • As an institution, the monarchy rarely issues statements, let alone ones that are so candid.

  • Experts say the timing was key, showing a shift from their traditional royal PR strategy.

Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace alerted the public Wednesday that Kate Middleton and King Charles III are dealing with separate health conditions.

Issued less than two hours apart, the royal statements revealed that Kate will be hospitalized for up to two weeks following a "planned abdominal surgery," while Charles is set to visit the hospital next week to receive treatment for an "enlarged prostate."

The announcements' swift timing and candid nature are a sharp departure from the monarchy's usual approach to sharing major health updates.

Business Insider spoke to PR experts Eric Schiffer and Kelcey Kintner about how Kate and Charles' hospital announcements prove the royals are operating on a new PR strategy and whether transparency is winning them points in the court of public opinion.

The royals are in control of the narrative, not at its mercy

In the world of PR, it's always better to control the news cycle than react to it.

Kintner, the senior vice president of the international crisis firm Red Banyan, said announcing the hospitalizations on the same day is a prime example of that PR strategy.

"It does give the royal family an opportunity to announce these health issues together in one news cycle, which is always helpful when you're releasing news that could be perceived as concerning to some," she said.

Kate Middleton during the opening of Evelina London's new children's day surgery unit on December 5, 2023, in London.
Kate Middleton during the opening of Evelina London's new children's day surgery unit on December 5, 2023, in London.Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"It's far more beneficial to get in front of the story, be transparent, and put out the truthful narrative," Kintner added. "It doesn't mean that they have to release every detail about King Charles' or the Princess of Wales' health, but the strategy will likely help reduce or avoid an onslaught of false headlines and frenzied media attention where they are getting care."

Schiffer agreed, adding that it also minimizes the rumor cycle.

"You concentrate the message, and by doing it the same day, it in some ways reduces the probability that there may be rumors and controversy," he said.

Schiffer said the news would've inevitably resulted in another royal PR disaster if the palace had kept Kate or Charles' condition private.

"Had they not done that, there would've been a leak, and then there'd be a week of gossip," he said. "Both announcements were wisely communicated to further build trust with the public and show a desire to bring transparency and eliminate rumors in the process."

The announcements mark a clear shift away from the traditional royal PR strategy

Not only were the announcements a smart PR move, but they demonstrated a break with the "never explain, never complain" strategy the royals often rely on, experts said.

As an example, Schiffer referenced the palace's vague health announcements during Queen Elizabeth II's final years.

In October 2021, the late queen was hospitalized overnight for what Buckingham Palace described as "preliminary investigations." News of the hospitalization was only made public once the monarch had returned to Windsor Castle to rest — and no further comment was given about her condition at the time.

Queen Elizabeth II during Prince Philip's funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II during Prince Philip's funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images

These announcements prove the royals "are not running the same playbook as before when the Queen was struggling with her health," Schiffer said.

"People care and want to know what's going on with the king and Kate," he said, adding that by being transparent, the palace is "showing respect and caring about the relationship with the public."

Kintner echoed Schiffer: "In the past, the monarchy has been much more secretive about health issues, and it really only leads to outlandish speculation and rumors."

King Charles
King Charles has an enlarged prostate and will be hospitalized for treatment, Buckingham Palace said.WPA Pool / Getty Images

Besides mitigating rumors, Kintner said leaning into transparency can also help royals use their platform for good.

"Everyone has health issues at some point, so it's also a way for the royals to connect with average citizens who might have similar ailments or concerns," she said. "In the case of King Charles, many older men suffer from an enlarged prostate, and his willingness to be honest about the condition really humanizes him and could encourage other men to get checked out — potentially saving lives."

Schiffer added that the royals are also now benefiting from a PR strategy that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "have wisely run" for years, "which is removing some of the walls of intimacy and providing greater transparency in showing your humanity."

"They've learned from Megan and Harry," he said, referring to the royal family. "They've seen how it is responded to by the public, especially young people, who want to feel connected."

Read the original article on Business Insider