12/05/2012

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:

Prince
Prince William arrives at the King Edward VII Hospital on Wednesday to visit his wife Kate, who was spending a third day in the King Edward VII Hospital. (Getty Images)

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.

HostsThey 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.”

Pippa(The station pulled the interview off its website and YouTube, but you can hear an edited version as posted by the Telegragh below.)

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.

Pippaa
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)

 

Comments

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Why wouldn't there be some kind of password or designated spokesperson, so that no one who isn't authorized would have access to any information? Or, my suggestion would be let the prank callers think that they have actually reached someone who will give them info, but in reality it is a prank on the pranksters and the info provided is so outrageous that anyone would know it was a total joke.

I don't think it is that funny, really. I hate smart-alecky yuppie people who have to try and get a cheap laugh for a stupid radio program--at the expense of others, so that they can show off. The nurse who was working for the hospital sounded naive, but innocent. She was mannerly and courteous and this is what she receives for her manners: snickerings and sniggering.

I like a good laugh now and then, but I don't find it funny when you make fun of people.

Those two radio people better hope that she doesn't get fired, and they better feel bad knowing that the nurseprobably got marched into the office of the head nurse and probably got yelled at, because of their stupid joke

If you don't like your life of unearned privilege, Bill, you can abdicate anytime and go get a real job. No one will bother you then.

For what they did, unless the unedited version is offensive. I don't hear anything that is well .... insulting or bad. They are just poking fun at the the two old royals. As for the young women who committed suicide over this lack of authentication about releasing details, well maybe something else was at play. Shame on me for perhaps calling this a conspiracy ? It's not right that she took her own life for this, but I don't see why she took her own life over this incident as she didn't exactly say or give any information that was important or put anyone in harm.

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