Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is no stranger to being the subject of ugly rumors. But the latest round of gossip surrounding her and husband Prince William may be too much to ignore. Earlier this month, In Touch magazine published a rumor accusing Prince William of having an affair with Rose Hanbury while Kate was pregnant with their third child. The rumors, while unsubstantiated, have continued to grow as the public tries to understand what is exactly is going on and find out if there is any shred of truth to them. As the first mainstream tabloid to echo these ugly claims, In Touch may have opened doors for British publications to do the same — and Prince William is taking immediate legal action to ensure they don’t.
What is this rumor anyway? Where did it originate?
For weeks, rumors have been swirling of a feud between Middleton and “rural rival” Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley and a close friend to Kate. But only a few online publications, and a now-deleted tweet by Times of London staff writer Giles Coren, had mentioned the rumor of an affair. The In Touch story, on the other hand, not only mentions the rumored affair, but offers brutal detail. The cover alone is splashed with “princess’ worst nightmare,” while the article’s content suggests the rumor was an open secret. Upon first hearing these claims, In Touch‘s anonymous “insider” claims, Kate rushed to accuse William, who in turn “just laughed it off.” Unsatisfied with his explanation, the “insider” goes on to report, Kate demanded that William cut off contact with the Cholmondeleys — thus setting into motion that “feud” we’ve been hearing so much about. In a final nasty twist, In Touch suggests that these rumors had “rocked the palace and their marriage,” and raised comparisons to Prince Charles’ affair while married to Princess Diana (Prince William’s mother).
So, why was an American magazine the first to formally cover the rumor?
First of all, British publications are held to stricter libel laws than the American press. And given that these rumors are wholly unsubstantiated, it makes sense that British publications stayed far away. Now that In Touch has published its story, unfortunately, it opens the doors for the British press to propagate the same unconfirmed and corroborated allegations, all under the guise of simply reporting what another publication is saying. It’s precisely because of this that Prince William has decided to pursue legal action, and let the British media know that he won’t tolerate the rumors going any further.
What action has William taken?
As of this writing, The Daily Beast reports that “at least one British publication” has been served a legal warning after publishing similar details of the cheating rumor. The royals’ “lawyers of choice” Harbottle and Lewis delivered a letter accusing the outlet of publishing “false and highly damaging” allegations, and further advises that “the publication of false speculation in respect of our clients’ private life also constitutes a breach of his privacy pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention to Human Rights.” When the royal family is faced with ugly rumors, former royal editor of The Sun Duncan Larcombe notes that it’s unusual for legal action to be taken. The motto, he explains, is “never complain and never explain,” an attitude William is clearly balking at in this moment.
Even though the rumors are baseless, will it stop other tabloids from reporting it?
It’s worth noting that even among American publications, a very small subset have elected to follow In Touch‘s lead. Us Weekly and People magazine, both of which feature robust royal family coverage, have no mention of the scandal. Further, The Daily Mail has published a complete rebuttal of even the feuding rumors, stating that “both sides [had] considered legal action” but had thus far chosen to ignore it given lacking “evidence about what the so-called dispute is about.” It’s also worth noting that In Touch is hardly known for its journalistic integrity — The New York Times noted earlier this year that the magazine publishes the same, categorically false story of Jennifer Aniston’s pregnancy roughly four times a year.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take a seat on the Friendship Bench at the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, which aims to promote better mental health for all. At #GlobalMHSummit The Duke and Duchess heard about mental health initiatives from across the world, such as the Friendship Bench which is used by specially trained community grandmothers in Zimbabwe as a place to listen to and support people with mental health conditions.
Is William breaking with royal protocol by seeking legal action?
This is actually completely in line with both William and Harry’s past behavior. Back in 2016, Harry went after The Star for publishing rumors of an affair with Pippa Middleton, while Kate and William successfully sued a French magazine after it published topless photos of Middleton in 2012. While previous generations of the royal family may have gone by a different motto, William has proven time and again that he will stand up to the press if it comes after his loved ones. It seems only fair that rumors accusing William of cheating on his pregnant wife, and the mother of his children, should fall under that category.