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As teorias da conspiração sobre Kate Middleton atingiram o ápice

Absence

The public absence of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has gone from a concern of royal family observers to an international joke in a matter of weeks. Kensington Palace said that the abdominal surgery that the princess underwent in January was planned and indicated that she would be out of the spotlight until March. However, several unusual details, such as grainy photos, an edited image, vague medical information, and irregular updates from the British royal family, kept the public speculating. And that is never a good thing, especially with Kate not being seen in public since December.

The supposed disappearance of Kate has led TikTok and X users to dive into bizarre conspiracy theories and intertextual jokes on social media. Crowds of amateur detectives have drawn up timelines and delved into the princess’s movements in recent months, combining genuine concern with conspiracy theories. Ordinary citizens working as forensic photography experts suggested that recent images of Kate were fabricated, creating theories about where she really is and who they think is trying to cover up the “truth.” And yes, there are plenty of jokes.

At first, it was just the typical laughter that arises whenever something socially noteworthy happens: “Maybe Kate had a Brazilian Butt Lift! Maybe she has a horrible fringe and is hiding until it grows back! Maybe she is getting in shape after a long off-season from MLB (the US National Baseball League)!” After it was believed that the photo of the princess and her three children on Mother’s Day was altered, and subsequently removed by news agencies, things started to get more serious and more confusing.

The British media, usually complimentary to the royals, began to ask more probing questions. American TV shows openly mocked what was quickly becoming a real mess, even featuring theories that were once the exclusive province of gossip enthusiasts. The uproar, the theories, the analysis, the jokes, and, yes, the serious concern show the multiplicity of ways people interact and perceive the British royal family.

“Intrigue palace” It is not hard to understand why people are so involved in this particular dramatic piece. After all, this is called “palace intrigue” for a reason. On social media and forums – and, indeed, even before the internet -, royal observers gathered to discuss who is doing what, who is on the outs, and what the most interesting secrets are.

“They lead unattainable and barely identifiable lives, and yet I have been aware of them my entire life,” commented Susan Graves. The 40-year-old woman, who moved from Birmingham, UK, to the US nearly 20 years ago, follows royal news on sites like Reddit, where the r/RoyalsGossip subreddit has over 44,000 subscribers.

“I’m old enough to remember when Princess Diana died and all the scandal and sadness that happened after that,” she told CNN. “And now, with everything happening with Prince Harry and his wife, the more sordid things happening with Prince Andrew, and the king being ill. It’s always something,” she added.

Carly Wainsworth, a 28-year-old American who also follows royal gossip on Reddit and elsewhere, told CNN that it all seems to solve a mystery. “It seems like fiction, but it’s not. It’s real enough to be real, if that makes sense. So you add things like a Photoshopped image, and you can’t help but be intrigued by what’s going on,” she pondered.

She says that even friends who usually do not care about the royal family got caught up in the drama with the princess. “Everyone loves a mystery. Many of these people find it fun to look for clues, guess what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s the same thing people do when they gossip about people they actually know.”

Both Graves and Wainsworth emphasized that series like “The Crown” and controversies surrounding various members of the royal family have influenced the way people view the monarchy. This is also due to the media’s treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and the aftermath of Harry’s memoir, the “Spare,” to more serious issues such as allegations against the king’s brother, Prince Andrew, and even the enduring interest in the life and death of Princess Diana.

“I don’t know if it’s because I’m American or something, but I assume they’re always hiding something. Not [the royal family] specifically, just anyone in that kind of position,” Wainsworth commented. The social media platform X now has groups known as “communities,” and one of them is called “where TF is Kate Middleton,” which has attracted 4,400 members ready to don their detective hats.

“Kate is missing and Twitter is on the case! Join us, indulge in your guilty pleasure,” says the description. Videos and posts in the group describe stories that could surpass any fictional mystery thriller. On the other hand, there are also Photoshop works of Kate holding hands with celebrity beau Pete Davidson and jokes that she might be taking a spin on the reality show “The Masked Singer.”

International jokes One thing is for gossip lovers at home to delve into real conspiracy theories, but as Kate’s absence from the public eye increases, entertainment and media are becoming bolder in their speculations. In a recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, host Stephen Colbert openly fueled rumors about Kate and William’s personal life. In a single line, he also summed up how so many stakeholders feel about the controversy: concern for Kate as a person, but at the same time, a hunger for more details.

“My heart goes out to Kate. Now let’s spread the hot gossip!” he joked. The Daily Show mocked the Mother’s Day photo controversy with a fake London correspondent reading a list of things that were “also Kate’s fault,” including “colonization and all that Prince Andrew stuff.” Even Dublin Airport got in on the joke, posting on social media an ironic image of Oscar-winning actor Cillian Murphy, obviously photoshopped, taken by their new “social media intern Kate.”

Dissolution of trust More terrible than the growing routine of transatlantic comedy is the apparent breakdown of trust between some media and the British royal family. After Kate apologized for the edited Mother’s Day image, the global director of one of the world’s largest news and photography agencies pointed out that Kensington Palace, which released the photo, was no longer considered a “reliable source.”

“As with anything, when you’re let down by a source, the [alert] level goes up, and we have some big internal problems,” explained AFP’s head, Phil Chetwynd, to the BBC in an interview. The UK Press Photographers’ Association released a statement calling on Kensington Palace to “make the original images available for inspection so we can assess what has been done” and “ensure this does not happen again.”

Members of the British media also begin to openly question the official narrative of Kate’s absence. “Fuelling the frenzy over Kate proves that the royals must be more transparent,” reads a recent headline from The Daily Mail, a media outlet that is generally sympathetic in its coverage of royal news. The royal response did not calm things down throughout the controversy. Official information from Kensington Palace, the residence and office in London of Prince William and Kate, has been contentious.

Royal experts noticed that the palace typically does not respond to rumors about the royal family but took the rare step of responding to unconfirmed reports about Kate’s condition. At the same time, the palace did not respond to requests for an unedited version of the Mother’s Day photo or provide more information about Kate’s whereabouts. Mark Borkowski, a relations expert…

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