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NICKY MARR: Undoubtedly, lives will be saved by Duchess

By Nicky Marr

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Prince Willliam and Princess Kate
Prince Willliam and Princess Kate

One in two of us will get cancer at some point in our lives.

If we’d forgotten that stark statistic, all weekend, headlines have reminded us of it, prompted by the release of the Duchess of Rothesay’s statement on Friday. In a pitch-perfect piece to camera, the 42-year-old announced that she is undergoing preventative chemotherapy, after post-operation tests revealed the presence of cancer.

Mr Marr and I caught up with the story late on Friday night following a dinner at Johnston’s of Elgin. After an evening of excellent food and company, and each clutching a goodie-bag containing cashmere socks, we were scrolling through our phones before bed. Together we watched Kate’s statement.

If cancer is going to strike one of the two of us, I thought, looking at Mr Marr, I hope it’s me instead of him. We can never know until we’re in that situation, but I suspect I’d find it easier to cope with illness, than cope with the fear of life without him.

On Saturday morning, cancer charities were quick to applaud Kate’s ‘bravery’ at speaking out and it is widely expected that her statement will encourage others to seek treatment.

Undoubtedly, lives will be saved, even as the nature of her cancer remains undisclosed. But I wish the family had been allowed to cope with her illness, its treatment, and her recovery in private.

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The chances of that, though, were slim. While every other family gets to choose whether, when, and how much of their own story to share, not so for the royals.

Was Kate ready to share her news? Or did the frenzied speculation over her Mother’s Day photo tip her over into explaining something that was none of our business? My instinct is that her hand was forced, sooner than she’d have liked, either by relentless social media conjecture, or by the attempt to access her medical records.

And had the couple’s wee kids already been told of their mum’s cancer, or was that news prematurely broken to them too?

Just because Kate married a prince, will one day be Queen, and is the mother to the second in line to the throne, shouldn’t mean she has lost all right to privacy.

Yes, I get that she lives in unparallelled luxury, but I wouldn’t thank you for her life. And I certainly wouldn’t want to have to share what’s in my medical records.

I’m no royalist – and never have been – but my overwhelming feeling is one of pity for this family. Not just because of the relentless scrutiny that their royal roles entail, but because they are a young family facing cancer, and in that respect, they are little different to any other in the same boat.

If the mess of speculation surrounding this mum-of-three has taught us anything over the past fortnight, it’s that none of us ever really have a clue of what is going on in other people’s lives.

Kate’s sober and dignified statement, thanking well-wishers for their concern for her health, setting out concern for her own children, and ending with an understanding for what others with cancer are going through, sharply contrasted the glee that followed her photoshopped Mother’s Day image. In just two minutes and 20 seconds, she put the sharks in their place.

Mr Marr and I are catching up just now with the latest series of The Crown on Netflix. As Kate was being ridiculed on Mother’s Day, in the drama, the last Princess of Wales was being driven through a tunnel in Paris, paparazzi in hot pursuit. We all know how that ended. Last night’s episode saw a young Kate and William meeting in St Andrews.

I know The Crown is only partly based on reality, but haven’t we learned anything from history in the past 30 years? Royal they may be, but they’re people too. Let’s grant them a little breathing space.

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