Princess Kate, as we’ve all come to call her, is pregnant! Media speculation about the possible heir has commenced, even as she is in the hospital with a serious condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. All of the reports have brought back many personal memories, because I’ve pretty much been there.
Well, I haven’t been a princess in a hospital room (let’s say suite) completely, miserably ill from a pregnancy everyone in England—and it might seem, the world—has been waiting for. I have been completely, miserably ill from the sheer fact of being pregnant though. And the first utterly miserable few months of my pregnancy also took place in London, so I feel for Kate Middleton.
I couldn’t help my initial response upon learning of the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge — I yelped, just a teeny tiny bit. Because I could see in my mind’s eye the newsstands, with paper after paper trumpeting the much-awaited royal announcement. Bets are likely being placed right now—about due date and gender and name. This is the kind of news the British media await—and then milk. If you live in the UK, even if you aren’t caught up in royal fever or fervor, you can’t actually escape it.
Now, I really don’t want to read about names and nurseries (surely, plural) and the many other fluffy stories that are almost undoubtedly about to appear, if not already out there (I glimpsed one on names already). Zoe Williams at the Guardian lists ten things she doesn’t want to read about Princess Kate.
And I especially don’t want to read cutesy comments about her medical condition, which is not a joking matter. Besides having paced London’s streets clutching a box of dry crackers, I have a touch of post traumatic stress disorder about experiencing extreme nausea in the England. If anything, news stories should explain the physical condition she’s experiencing, which is a potentially life-threatening condition for a pregnant woman.
Mostly, though it may not be the most popular thing to say about a very public person whose baby somehow won’t solely be hers, but in some way will belong to the entire country, I wish the media might give her some space, and honor her privacy, such as it isn’t functionally hers. If you have any doubts about how public her life as a mother will be, note that although there was a wrist slapping, Kate could not escape paparazzi while on holiday this autumn. And once Princess Kate does become a mother, I’m sure there will be many comparisons to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
I happened to be back in England the weekend of Princess Diana’s funeral (for a friend’s wedding, during which the guests maintained a news blackout). To say that the country was all Diana, all the time is an understatement. Paralyzed might be an apt word. That was IT, 24/7, dead Diana. How terribly I remember feeling for the children to have to endure that intense scrutiny as they navigated the loss of their mother. And so today, when I heard about the media frenzy over Princess Kate’s medical condition and pregnancy, what I first thought about was Prince William – the young man who has taken so many correct steps (with a seemingly lovely, fabulous, real life love) and I wanted for him to be protected, too.
Of course, neither of them will be. Theirs is a public marriage, however much it’s also a private one.
Meantime, this royal pregnancy—medically challenged as it might be—isn’t being treated so much as a royal pregnancy but a royal baby minus a few months. We can wish for respectful telling and privacy and non-objectification of the royal fetus, but we aren’t going to get it.