Kate Middleton and Charles’ health updates reveal shift in PR strategy

Kate Middleton and Charles’ health updates reveal shift in PR strategy

  • Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have announced that Kate Middleton and King Charles are facing health issues.
  • As an institution, the monarchy rarely makes a statement, let alone one so candid.
  • Experts say timing is key, signaling a shift in their traditional royal PR strategy.

Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace reminded the public on Wednesday that Kate Middleton and King Charles III are dealing with respective health conditions.

The royal announcement came less than two hours apart, revealing that Kate will be hospitalized for up to two weeks following “planned abdominal surgery” and that Charles will go to hospital next week to receive treatment for an “enlarged prostate.”

The timeliness and candid nature of these announcements is a stark departure from the monarchy’s usual approach to sharing major health updates.

Business Insider interviews a PR expert Eric Schiffer Kelcey Kintner tells how Kate and Charles’ hospital announcement proves the royal family is implementing a new PR strategy, and whether transparency wins them points in the court of public opinion.

The royals control the narrative, rather than being at its mercy

In PR, it’s always better to control the news cycle than to react to it.

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

She said: “It does give the royal family an opportunity to announce these health issues together in a news cycle, which is always helpful when you are publishing news that may be considered worrying by some.”

Kate Middleton attends the opening of Evelina London's new Children's Day Surgery on December 5, 2023 in London.

Kate Middleton attends the opening of Evelina London’s new Children’s Day Surgery on December 5, 2023 in London.

Ian Vogler – WPA Pool/Getty Images

“It’s much more beneficial to be in front of the story, be transparent and tell the true narrative,” Kintner added. “That doesn’t mean they have to release every bit of information about the health of King Charles or the Princess of Wales. details, but this strategy may help reduce or avoid false headlines and frantic media attention surrounding their treatment.”

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

“You centralize your messaging and do it on the same day, which somewhat reduces the likelihood of rumors and controversy,” he said.

Schiffer said if the royal family kept Kate or Charles’ illness a secret, the news would inevitably lead to another royal PR disaster.

“If they don’t, there will be a leak and then there will be a week of gossip,” he said. “Both announcements were intelligently communicated to further build trust with the public and demonstrate a desire to increase transparency and dispel rumors in the process.”

The announcements mark a clear shift from traditional royal PR strategies

Experts say the announcements are not only a smart PR move but also run counter to the “never explain, never complain” strategy that members of the royal family often rely on.

As an example, Schiffer pointed to Buckingham Palace’s vague health announcements during Queen Elizabeth II’s later years.

In October 2021, the late Queen was hospitalized overnight following what Buckingham Palace described as a “preliminary investigation.” News of the hospitalization was made public only after the Queen returned to Windsor Castle to rest – with no further comment on her condition being made at the time.

Queen Elizabeth II attends the funeral of Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.

Queen Elizabeth II attends the funeral of Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.

Victoria Jones-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Schiffer said the announcements were proof that members of the royal family were “not employing the same tactics as before” when the Queen was battling her health.

“People are concerned and want to know how the King and Kate are doing,” he said, adding that by being transparent, the royal family was “showing respect and care in its relationship with the public.”

Kintner echoed Schiffer’s statement: “In the past, the monarchy has been much more secretive about health issues, which has really only led to bizarre speculation and rumors.”

king charles

Buckingham Palace says King Charles has an enlarged prostate and will be hospitalized.

WPA Pool/Getty Images

Kintner said that in addition to reducing rumors, more transparency could help royals use their platform to do good.

“Everyone experiences health issues at some point, so this is also a way for the royal family to connect with ordinary citizens who may have similar illnesses or concerns,” she said. “In the case of King Charles, many older men Living with an enlarged prostate, his willingness to be honest about his condition really humanizes him and may encourage other men to get tested, which could save lives.”

Schiffer added that the royal family is also now benefiting from a PR strategy that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have “worked wisely” over the years, “which is removing some of the walls of intimacy and providing greater transparency in terms of showing humanity. “

“They learn from Meghan and Harry,” he said, referring to the royal family. “They’ve seen the response from the public, especially young people who want to feel connected.”

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