The BBC Royal Announcement Rumours Show How Speculation Can Spiral Out Of Control

From abdication to the regency act, rumours have reached fever pitch

Charles rumours

by Charlotte Roberts |
Updated on

Since the Princess of Wales announced she was taking time off to recover from surgery, 'Kate-gate' rumours have spiralled out of control – with genuine curiosity giving way to outlandish conspiracies and memes.

Last week, the speculation continued after unverified reports emerged on social media that the BBC have been told to be on high alert for an announcement from the royal family.

Before any major announcement, Buckingham Palace are known for giving selected media a heads up. Outlets were made aware of the late Queen’s declining health, with the Palace pre-announcing King Charles’s cancer diagnosis in February to some reporters.

In the end, the Princess herself made an announcement, at 6pm on Friday 22nd March, that she has been diagnosed with cancerfollowing her initial surgery, and was receiving preventative chemotherapy treatment. Ironically, this announcement isn't actually thought to be linked to the speculation that had been rife on social media in the week before. The video itself was filmed on Wednesday in Windsor, and the timing of the release was reported to be timed to coincide with the school Easter holidays, so that the Prince and Princess's three children, George, Charlotte and Louis could be shielded most effectively from the inevitable media storm.

Below are some of the conspiracy theories that were doing the rounds on social media in the week before the royal announcement was broadcast on the BBC, all of which demonstrate just how outlandish the social media speculation around the Princess of Wales has become.

That Kate Middleton was stepping down

Amid Kate’s time away from the public eye coupled with the recent furore over her use of Photoshop on a Mother's Day post only promoted further speculation about where she was. This led some to believe that the rumoured announcement would be linked to her role within the royal family.

SANDRINGHAM, NORFOLK - DECEMBER 25: Catherine, Princess of Wales attends the Christmas Morning Service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Ludicrous rumours swirled that the the Princess of Wales could be stepping away from her royal duties, a move which, as with Harry and Meghan, would see major shifts in the royal family. The speculation appears to have stemmed from The National Enquirer, with Radar Online later writing how ‘insiders’ had revealed Kate’s ‘resolve to quit’ after she’s become ‘trapped in The Firm.’

Of course, Kate wouldn’t be the first woman to quit the royal family after marrying into it, but there was never any tangible suggestion that this was going to happen. In recent years, the Princess has truly forged her own path when it comes to royal duties, focusing on early childhood and holding an annual carol concert. Since her cancer diagnosis has been made public, the palace has said that 'the Princess will return to official duties when she is cleared to do so by her medial team. She is in good spirits and is focused on making a full recovery.' There is a suggestion that she will attend public events if and when she feels well enough to do so, but that this in itself won't mark her return to public duty.

Is Prince William becoming the King

As the line of succession stands, Prince William will take over from his father when the time comes, with his eldest son Prince George next in line after him. But there was also plenty of speculation about whether the rumoured public announcement be about William.

Rumours swirled after a TikTok video went viral, alleging that Buckingham Palace was flying its flag at half mast (although this was categorically untrue and the video was criticised for perpetuating rumours). The reason it went viral is because if it were true, a flag at half mast is a sign of mourning. The clip fed speculation regarding King Charles’s current health situation - but the Palace clearly addressed the King’s health in its initial February 5th announcement, in which they revealed Charles remained ‘wholly positive about his treatment.'

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 11: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince William, Prince of Wales attends the 2024 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11, 2024 in London, England. The Commonwealth represents a global network of 56 countries with a combined population of 2.5 billion people, of which over 60 per cent are under 30 years old. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

There's a reason why many people were discussing the Regency Act, however, in relation to the King's ill health, because in a situation where the King was unable to rule, the current Act rules that Prince William would effectively become King. Recency would give William all the powers of the King, but cannot change the order of succession to the crown. Regency differs to abdication (in which the King would formally step down and withdraw from the role), as Prince William would only be covering for his father until such a point at which Charles is well enough to work again.

While the half mast video has fuelled rumours, it’s been reported that the video originates from September 2022 – the month in which the queen died – and is currently flying at full mast. The Royal family are not in mourning. And as we now know the announcement in question was nothing to do with King Charles' health or the line of succession.

Could King Charles be abdicating?

Another incorrect theory was that the announcement could be about the King’s abdication, with theorists suggesting that William was ready to step up.

An abdication would be historical. The only other British King to abdicate in recent memory has been King Edward VIII in 1936. In order to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, he passed the throne onto George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince William, Prince of Wales and King Charles III walk behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as it is transported on a gun carriage from Buckingham Palace to The Palace of Westminster ahead of her Lying-in-State on September 14, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lay in state until the early morning of her funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Again, there’s no hint that abdication is on the King’s radar - and let's not even get into those Nostradamus predictions.

What did Russian Media say about King Charles?

The UK embassies in both Russia and Ukraine were forced to confirm that King Charles is still alive, after Russian media sources falsely suggested that the King's death had been announced by Buckingham Palace.

The statement has since been taken down from the TASS website. The British embassies in Russia and Ukraine confirmed that King Charles is alive.

So, how correct were the social media rumours about the royal announcement?

Since reports surfaced that the BBC were on standby for a Royal announcement, speculation further swirled that press had already begun to camp outside Buckingham Palace. Naturally, a swarm of journalists and reporters outside the Palace is enough to make anyone questions what could be coming. However, while there were plenty of tweets last week talking about the gaggles of press, there were no pictures of videos confirming it.

While some of the rumours swirling last week weren't a million miles away from the speculation online - insofar as they explained more about the Princess of Wales whereabouts and health over the last few weeks - this is purely coincidental. The rumours doing the rounds had no basis on reality, because the people sharing them simply didn't know. It's a lesson in just how outlandish and wild social media speculation can become when left unchecked - and a reminder to take everything you read from an untrusted news source with a massive pinch of salt.

Charlotte Roberts is a news and entertainment writer at Grazia UK. She spends her days covering everything celebrity, culture, and entertainment.

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