For decades, the British royal family has followed a simple motto when it comes to interacting with the press: never complain, never explain. When it comes to criticism or bogus rumors, the royals uniformly choose to ride out the tempest – until recently, that is. In recent months, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have become increasingly outspoken against the toxicity of the tabloid press. This week, another important royal has broken tradition and spoken out against phony rumors: Kate Middleton.
The publication in question wasn’t the Sun or the Mirror or any of the other British tabloids notorious for publishing false and biased stories. It was actually Tatler, a well-regarded fashion and lifestyle magazine whose upcoming issue features a profile of Middleton that dubs her “Catherine the Great” and promises to tell the story of “how the crisis made Kate the Kingmaker.”
That “crisis,” of course, would be the exit of her brother-in-law Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle as full-time royals, a move which was quickly characterized by many media outlets as a dereliction of duty and a show of contempt to every member of the house of Windsor, both alive and dead. In the wake of this “scandal” and various others, Middleton has emerged as the guardian angel of the monarchy, the UK, and the very concept of dignity, or so says Tatler.
A good portion of the profile is taken up with spiteful claims from unnamed sources about how “selfish” the Sussexes are, how Markle has no respect for “protocol” or “manners” befitting a true duchess. How Middleton has become her husband’s “royal ballast” and “most trusted adviser” in these supposedly trying times. How “furious” Middleton was at being forced to take on even more royal duties. How thin she looks, presumably due to the stress of raising three children and picking up all of the Sussexes’ slack.
Middleton Hits back
Middleton didn’t let the story slip by as the “never complain, never explain” maxim would have dictated. A spokesperson for Kensington Palace released a statement slamming the article as containing a “swathe of inaccuracies and false representations.” Additionally, the Duchess of Cambridge has announced that she may take legal action if the profile is not taken down from the magazine’s website.
Gossip Cop is used to addressing this narrative as it usually manifests: within the pages of supermarket rags, both British and non-British, which put minimal effort at best into making their tales sound convincing. But reading the nasty claims from this respected and widely-read magazine, you’d think it was something straight out of the pages of the National Enquirer. It is pretty shocking.
The juxtaposition of Middleton as the long-suffering but devoted wife and mother and Markle as the money-grubbing diva (often with racist undertones) is one of the most enduring tabloid narratives about the two duchesses. Since Markle joined the royal family, Gossip Cop has shot down phony stories about her and Middleton’s “secret feud,” about their feud as mothers, about Markle leaving the royal family because she didn’t want to live in Middleton’s shadow, about how Middleton and her husband were distancing themselves from the Sussexes. The list goes on and on.
Tatler has stated that it believes the legal complaint sent by Middleton’s lawyers has “no merit.” But even if the article stays up, the decision to take action against this toxic narrative is not nothing. After all, “never complain, never explain” can only get you so far when you receive death threats on your wedding day and you’re plagued by a constant swarm of drones trying to photograph you. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle deserve better, as does Kate Middleton. Gossip Cop sincerely hopes that this signals a turning point in this toxic narrative. But if (and, more likely, when) tabloids continue publishing spiteful and biased tall tales pitting these women against each other, we’ll be here to set the records straight. Always complaining and explaining.