Prank call to Kate Middleton's hospital no laughing matter
UPDATE (Dec. 7): The joy of a royal pregnancy at the beginning of the week was reduced to stunned disbelief four days later, overshadowed by bizarre twists that ended in a tragic death.
The death Friday of nurse Jacintah Saldanha, who answered the prank call from an Australian radio station on Dec. 4, has left both colleagues and the royals reeling. Our news story is here. Below is the original blog about the prank-gone-wrong and the audio of the conversation between the Aussie DJs and a nurse on the Duchess of Cambridge's floor:
When you put up a wall, someone will always attempt to climb over it.
That's a hard lesson that the Royal Family has learned over the years, even when the walls are considered by most to be necessary.
That's especially relevant in the case of the Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, who are attempting to start a family in a normal way while living in a very unnormal world of royalty in a digital age.
The latest in this drama came Tuesday night. A couple of radio station hosts in Australia thought it would be fun to impersonate the Queen and Prince Charles and try to get through the hospital switchboard to talk to the Duchess of Cambridge, who is being treated at King Edward VII Hospital for acute morning sickness.
They got as far as a nurse on Kate's floor, who spent about two minutes talking with the 'Queen' (Mel Greig, left, with 'Prince Charles' Michael Christian) and giving out privileged health updates on the duchess (she's fine, by the way -- "uneventful night", "no retching").
Once the hospital realized it was punked, it issued a swift apology and promised a review of its telephone protocols.
The radio station, 2Day FM, also apologized, as did host Christian. "We were very surprised that our call was put through," Christian said in a statement. "We thought we'd be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents. We’re very sorry if we’ve caused any issues and we’re glad to hear that Kate is doing well.”
Prince William, who arrived at the hospital midday Wednesday, was informed of the incident, though he kept a smile on his face both as he entered and, five hours later, left the hospital. Kate also had a visit from her siblings, James and Pippa (right), who stayed for about two hours.
Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, used a hospital back door to enter and exit during a visit on Tuesday evening.
St. James's Palace has no formal complaint planned against the Aussie radio station, but it's folly to consider the issue closed.
In the wake of the topless Kate photos taken by paparazzi, and with a lot of baggage from his mother Diana's death in the harsh media light, William is in no mood to appreciate a prankish laugh at his family's expense.
One palace source has told RardarOnline that after his wife's pregnancy was announced, William asked the Queen to warn newspaper publishers that there will "be hell to pay" if any "lines are crossed" regarding coverage of Kate and her pregnancy.
"William was deeply hurt and angered by the topless photo scandal Kate was forced to endure over the summer, and has made it crystal clear that, make no mistake, he will not allow his wife to be subjected to such blatant intrusion and humiliation ever again," the source said.
All this comes just days after the release of the Levenson Report, that is recommending stronger regulation of the British press in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
The British media went guns-a-blazing at the phone prank, though they steered away from repeating specific information given out by the nurse. The Mail compared the "outrageous" stunt to the topless Kate episode.
It's not the first time radio hosts have let their mischievous nature get the best of them with royalty. One of the more famous was in 1995 when a Montreal DJ, Pierre Brassard, passed himself off as Jean Chretien to get through to Queen Elizabeth.
Pippa Middleton and her brother James leave after visiting their sister Kate at the King Edward VII Hospital. Pippa's outfit included knee-high suede boots, a StayDry trench coat and Gucci purse. (Reuters)