Between celebrity and the right to privacy, it’s fair to ask why Kate is sick?

The psychiatrist Di Giannantonio: “Dramatic conflict between two princes, but the princess’s illness also affects the commoners, here’s why”

A life balanced between celebrity and the need for privacy. Princess Kate, having undergone abdominal surgery, will remain in hospital for up to 2 weeks and she leaves public commitments until after Easter, asking that your personal medical information remains private. Is it right then to continue wondering what’s wrong with her? Massimo Di Giannantonio, past president of the Italian Society of Psychiatry (Sip), analyzed for Adnkronos Salute “the dramatic conflict between two general principles that clash in an irreconcilable way”.

The right of the public to be informed

“The first principle – he observes – it is that of the right/duty of public opinion to be informed, above all, when it comes to public figures who have political and government value, because political and government value represents a collective interest that concerns the future of the population. The English ruling house is a monarchical institution, but it is certainly political. So there is a duty to inform public opinion. The second principle with which we come into conflict is that of right to privacy and confidentiality regarding the general health conditions of each individual, it matters little whether he is a politician, a monarch or a ‘commoner'”, a common citizen. “In the case of the Princess of Wales, these two princes enter into a head-on collision which is a the great problem of democracy, that is, the attempt to mediate between the interests of the individual and the interests of the community”.

“It is clear – continues Di Giannantonio – that the English public opinion has the right/duty to be informed about its reigning house which has political value, and it is clear that Kate Middleton’s right is to request for her own conditions of health an absolute confidentiality that does not undermine his general principles of being human and of a person inserted in a collective social context. I also want to highlight – he adds – that this request for confidentiality and this absolute lack of real information” on the conditions of the 42-year-old princess “in a contemporary society dominated by social media and dominated by an information ‘overload’, is something that underlines the gravity of the issue. And the more serious the hypothetical situation, the more we try to build a wall of silence and mystery around the actual extent of the disease. As if to say that the request for confidentiality is a request that serves to lock down a secret that is obviously worrying.”

What need does this choice of silence demonstrate? “It is a choice that raises a series of questions – reasons Di Giannantonio – because if it were an affair that ends within the context of a private family this would have ‘flashes’ and repercussions exclusively within the limited family environment. Since it is an issue that concerns the monarchy, therefore also the management of power and the English people, it is an issue that concerns – mutatis mutandis – every British citizen, who wonders what the consequences of this hypothetical illness are on the future of the monarchy and therefore on the future of the state political structure”.

The operation and the long hospital stay

Should the media mind their own business? “Evidently not – replies the psychiatrist – The seriousness of the situation seems to emerge from various elements. And excluding the oncological disease does not exclude the seriousness of the condition. Above all, what is not fully understood is that, after an abdominal operation which seems to have been done in absolute urgency , 15 days of post-operative hospital stay they indicate the hospitalization of a major operation. So the evidence is all negative. And the media must follow the story because the collective interest, and the importance of public opinion being informed regarding issues that directly or indirectly concern it, prevails over the interest of the individual.”

There has been an opposite way of dealing with medical matters within the British royal family. On the one hand, King Charles, who communicated his diagnosis (benign prostatic hypertrophy), announced an imminent intervention and also attributed a social value to this communication, linking it to the desire to raise awareness among his subjects of the importance of checks and prevention. On the other hand, Kate Middleton makes the exact opposite choice, hiding behind maximum secrecy.

The mystery surrounding the diagnosis

For Di Giannantonio “the thing is very simple: Carlo talks about his illness because it is something that has a diagnosis, a prognosis and a specific therapy that is evidently not worrying. As regards Kate, the mystery surrounding the diagnosis signifies a theme of gravityof prognosis and, last but not least, let’s consider the right of minor children not to be overwhelmed by a series of inferences about the fate of their mother”. However, the psychiatrist concludes his reflection with a question: “In a world dominated by social and immersed in an ocean of information – he repeats – is it more possible (and does it make more sense) to talk about privacy for subjects who have a very relevant international and socially relevant figure?”.