The BBC Responds to Claims Its Coverage of Kate Middleton's Cancer Diagnosis Was "Insensitive"

The Princess of Wales' video announcing her diagnosis was filmed by BBC studios.

A relative of the Photographer watches television, as Catherine, The Princess of Wales announces that she is receiving a preventative course of chemotherapy for cancer on March 22, 2024 in London, England.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The BBC is responding to complaints that its coverage of Kate Middleton's cancer diagnosis and preventative chemotherapy treatment was "insensitive."

"We received complaints from people who feel our coverage of the Princess of Wales’ cancer diagnosis was excessive and insensitive," the U.K. broadcasting company wrote in a statement posted on its complaint website on April 5.

"We broadcast in full the highly personal video message from the Princess of Wales, in which she spoke directly to the public about her cancer diagnosis," the statement continued. "Our coverage reflected the significance of this story and the outpouring of support for the princess from around the globe. We explained to our audience what was known about Catherine’s condition, but did not speculate on details that had not been made public."

The statement went on to read that the BBC's reporting "made clear that this is a difficult time for the princess and the rest of the Royal Family."

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A photo posted by princeandprincessofwales on

On March 22, Kensington Palace released a video, of the princess discussing her recent cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, stemming from what the palace said was a planned—and what the princess described as "major"—abdominal surgery in January.

The video was shared on all of the palace's official social media accounts, and in the wake of an onslaught of conspiracy theories and public speculation about the princess and her medical condition.

Online mania regarding the royal family hit a fever pitch after Kensington Palace released what was later found to be a digitally altered photograph of the princess posing alongside her three children. It was the first photo of the princess the palace had released to the public following her surgery and brief hospitalization. Kensington Palace refused to release the original image.

"We have been mindful at all times to approach our coverage with sensitivity. As part of our analysis, we examined the intense speculation there had been in the preceding weeks about the princess’s health," the BBC's statement continued. " We also reported on Catherine’s request for privacy and detailed the statement from Kensington Palace regarding the princess having the right to privacy in relation to her medical issues."

A relative of the Photographer watches television, as Catherine, The Princess of Wales announces that she is receiving a preventative course of chemotherapy for cancer on March 22, 2024 in London, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the video, Middleton said that "it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte, and Louis, in a way that's appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I'm going to be OK."

"My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy," she continued. "But for now, I must focus on making a full recovery."

This is not the first time the BBC has fielded complaints about its coverage of the royal family. In 2021, the news organization received nearly 110,000 complaints for excessive coverage of Prince Philip's death. And in 2022, the news organization publicly responded to complaints that its coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s death was “biased” toward the monarchy.

"We always give careful consideration to the editorial decisions we make," BBC's statement regarding its coverage of Middleton's cancer diagnosis continued. "While we have a responsibility to report on stories that are of interest to our audience, we appreciate that not everyone would have approved of the approach we took."

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, celebrity, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.