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Prince William's aversion to spectacle created one — and might spawn a King Harry

Princes William Harry Charles Prince of Wales follow coffin funeral Princess Diana
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Fiercely protective of his family after the horrific death, of his mother, William bravely tries to shield his wife’s illness from the media, creating a media firestorm, which he loathes

If you are obsessed with the British monarchy like I am, you know that William, the Prince of Wales, loathes spectacles.

After his mother, Diana, the former Princess of Wales, died, William was adamant that he did not want to lead the march behind her casket during the funeral procession through the streets of London. His grandfather, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, insisted, and William obliged him. He continues to say that it was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

William still harbors resentment over that moment, mainly because it was such a big spectacle, according to many reports. And ever since the spectacle that was his mother’s life, fueled by an overzealous media, William appears to resent anything that causes a media frenzy.

Media frenzy is apparently what has separated him from his brother, Harry. Ever since “the spare” married Meghan Markle, there has been a media firestorm. If all the reports about William's abhorrence of media overdrive around his family are accurate, it’s easy to understand why he stays away from Harry.

If Harry was out to make William his enemy, he knew the right buttons to push by publishing a book that tore into the royal family, making a woe-is-me documentary, and shunning the monarchy’s home base of Britain for the U.S. It’s hard to imagine a way to make William more pissed off than what Harry did.

It’s therefore easy to understand why over the last few months William has fought furiously to keep his wife’s health out of the spotlight; however, in doing so, he created that very thing that he tries to avoid, a media firestorm that caused a huge spectacle. After rumors of a divorce, an affair, “fake Kate,” doctored photos, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, came forward with the news she had cancer.

My friends know my fascination with the royal family, and so to a person, they have all come to me, convinced that there were some tantalizing shenanigans behind Kate’s absence. I told each of them, “You’re going to regret believing all this stuff. William is incredibly private, and my guess is that something is seriously wrong with Kate.”

I was right, although, I didn’t want to be. Even though I was convinced that Kate was ill, when the “breaking news” about her illness popped up on my phone, it was still a shock.

It’s now very clear why William tried to keep this a secret. He didn’t want intrusion into his family. It was enough that his father, King Charles III, came forward with his cancer diagnosis, which immediately shifted the focus to William, the heir to the throne. If Kate’s cancer was also divulged around the same time as King Charles's, that’s a tremendously burdensome double whammy on William.

Now what William desperately tried to avoid has come to pass. The media attention on him will be excruciating. While Kate asked for privacy for her family, we all know that the hounding hordes of the British press — and the global as well — never learned a lesson from Diana’s death.

Over the treacherous road that lies ahead, William is bound to have a moment of reckoning. At all costs, he wants to shield his family from the fate of his mother. It’s almost an obsession with him, according to some royal watchers. In fact, a royal family expert – someone privy to more than I – said what most everyone already knew: "William is determined that family life is his number one priority.”

And while he detests the spectacle, that’s what’s ahead for William, and that pain will be unimaginable to him, for sure. And at the risk of speculating, I spoke to a few physician friends, all who told me that even though they don't know Kate’s condition, they think she is most likely suffering from a rather serious form of cancer, given a major surgery with chemotherapy following. “It sounds like pancreatic or colon cancer, and those are the worst types,” one of my friends said ominously. “Obviously, I’m not saying that’s what it is.”

With his father ailing and his wife sick, the pressure — as well as the spectacle — grows on William, and here’s where the irony of life might forge what for many would be an unwelcome turn of events.

William’s great-grandfather King George VI ascended to the throne when his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in December of 1936. Edward, or David, as he was known, was a good-looking, charismatic, athletic man and the toast of London. His brother, Albert, or Bertie, was a shy, bookworm who stuttered. He was considered a laughingstock, and at a time when a person with a stutter was perceived as being stupid, many were grateful that David was heir to the throne.

However, David, or King Edward, fell in love with American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and David decided he would rather spend his life with her than as king. He left, which left Bertie, and which left the British aghast.

If, God forbid, something happens to Kate and something happens to King Charles, it’s not inconceivable that a grieving William would step aside for the sake of protecting his family and to protect himself – and them – from a future filled with the constant presence of a global media throng.

Though William has been the dutiful heir to the throne and has great respect for the monarchy, he may not feel that it’s worth all the trouble that might befall his family, especially if he’s left to raise the kids on his own without the love of his life. In the process, he might take his young children, who are heirs to the throne after him, out of the picture as well.

If William stepped aside and took his children out of the equation, the unpredictability of life would thrust Harry and Meghan forward. William would have to mend fences with his brother and at the same time turn that blinding, glaring, intrusive, and painful spectacle of the throne over to his brother who seems to relish it.

If this would ever happen, would the British people end up feeling the same way they did when Harry’s great-grandfather was also unexpectedly elevated to the throne?

This is all pure conjecture and speculation, which is precisely what the British press excels in doing. Each hypothesis, each wild scenario, each vicious rumor is exactly what Prince William has spent his life trying to avoid.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” Kate said in her video.

I hope, for William’s sake, that people like myself and the global press, give him, his wife, his father, and his children,\ the space they need to get through this horrendous family crisis. I think we would all love to see someday a very happy – and privately content – King William and Queen Kate.

Now, that would be a truly welcome spectacle.

John Casey is a senior editor at The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.