12/12/2012

Pippa has title ready for her next book: 'Bottoms Up'

Pippa
Pippa Middleton poses with the her book "Celebrate: A Year of British Festivities for Families and Friends" in a bookstore in Haarlem, Netherlands, on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

After finding little to 'Celebrate' with her first book, Pippa Middleton is at last on the right track when it comes to a title for her second book.

"Maybe I should write the sequel and call it 'Bottoms Up.' Now that could be a bestseller," she writes in a piece for The Spectator, a weekly British conservative magazine.

Pippa1Good thinking. Now Pippa gets it. If she wants to sell herself as the hostess with the mostess, then you better make sure to sell the sizzle with the steak, so to speak (maybe it's rump roast in Pippa's case).

The Duchess of Cambridge's sister is not immune to the barbs that have been slung her way over her book party-planning book, which has been raked for its sometimes simplistic advice ("A turkey ... can be perfect for large gatherings"). Sales have been modest and the book's original $40 price tag has been slashed to under $10 in some places.

Her Royal Hotness still has the $600,000 advance to soothe her hurt feelings, of course, which manages to keep her sense of humour intact.

"I have been much teased for my book," she wrote. "Lots of journalists are saying that my advice is glaringly obvious. A spoof Twitter account called @pippatips offers such pearls as 'enjoy a glass of water by getting a clean glass and pouring in water from a tap or bottle'."

(Here's another: "A gentle scratch can be a fantastic way of relieving the annoyance of an itch.")

To her credit, Pippa hasn't run and hid from being the butt of jokes, though she still doesn't do one-on-one interviews. This week, she did the PR turn with booksellers in the Netherlands, catching plenty of attention in her purple Beulah London silk dress.

To her critics: "It’s all good fun, I know, and I realize that authors ought to take criticism on the chin. But in my defence, let me say this: Celebrate is meant to be a guide to party planning and, as such, it has to cover the basics. If I were to write a cookery book, for instance, I would be compelled to say that, to make an omelette, you have to break at least one egg."

Deadlines probably got in the way of Pippa talking about her sister Kate's pregnancy, though she did allude to some pudgy-ness in the family, talking about her father Michael's Christmas tradition.

Will“He buys a new costume each year and typically gets a bit carried away -- a couple of Christmases ago, he appeared in an inflatable sumo outfit."

AND SPEAKING OF KATE ...

She remained home on Wednesday while her husband Prince William represented the family at the London movie premiere of "The Hobbit" (right).

It's not expected that Kate will re-appear for several weeks, perhaps at Christmas. There's talk that the couple may be opting to spend the day in Bucklebury with the Middletons instead of at Sandringham, where the holiday takes on a more frenzied and formal air.

Doctors say her form of morning sickness could last months, perhaps even the entire pregnancy. One of Kate's former classmates, Jessica Hay -- who predicted the timing of her friend's pregnancy correctly -- told New Idea magazine that Will and Kate first learned the good news while staying at their Wales cottage, then had a quiet evening and shepherd's pie to mark the occasion.

While there are plenty of guessing games about the name of the new baby (babies?), it appears no one will narrow down the choices to boy or girl. Word is Will and Kate don't want to be told the gender until they find out themselves ... the natural way.

 

Nurse involved in royal phone prank was found hanged, say reports

NurseThe nurse who was the victim of a prank call to the Duchess of Cambridge was found hanged, according to reports.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead in the nurses' quarters near King Edward VII hospital in London last Friday, leaving behind a note for her husband, Benedict Barboza, and their teenaged children Junal and Lisha.

Sources for various UK media outlets, including the Guardian and Sky News, have confirmed that Saldanha's body was discovered hanged in her room. A post-mortem was completed Wednesday and results will be released Thursday.

Saldanha was the nurse who answered the phone from two Australian DJs who were impersonating the Queen and Prince Charles in a prank call. She spent just a few seconds on the line with them before transferring the call to the another nurse stationed on the floor where the duchess was being treated for acute morning sickness. The prank call continued for a few minutes as a nurse answered some questions about Kate's condition.

Three days later, Saldanha, who had worked at the hospital for four years, took her life. According to the Daily Mail, her family was unaware of her involvement in the hoax until after her death. The nurse's family lived in Bristol and she had been staying in London and commuting back home on her days off.

FamilyAnger was immediately directed at the 2Day FM radio station, which has pulled the program and its hosts, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, off the air. In the wake of the tragedy, the station, while saying it did nothing illegal, has promised a minimum $500,000 to Saldanha's family.

The family, right, plans to have burial rites for Saldanha in her native India. They are demanding that the hospital conduct an inquiry into the circumstances around her death.

"She clearly loved her job, loved her work, cared deeply about the health of her patients, and what's happened is a complete tragedy," British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament on Thursday.  "There are many lessons that need to be learned."

MORE: Radio station may have broken law, experts say

Dy
In this image made off video footage recorded Monday for the  program "A Current Affair" by Australia's Channel Nine, radio DJs Michael Christian, left, and Mel Greig express their remorse at the death of Jacintha Saldanha after they made a prank phone call to the hospital.

 

12/11/2012

Duchess Kate laying low as she battles morning sickness

Kate will
Prince William leaves the King Edward VII Hospital with his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, last Thursday. Kate has been laying low since then, battling her morning sickness. (Reuters)

Prince William has been reviving his royal solo act these days.

He’ll be without a date once again Wednesday evening when he appears at the London movie premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

His usual companion -- wife Kate -- has pulled out of the red-carpet affair as she has her own journey to navigate these days with a rocky start to her pregnancy. She is unlikely to be straying far from home or hospital in the next several weeks.

Her acute morning sickness -- hyperemesis gravidarum -- commonly leads to dehydration, which in turn led her to a three-day stay in King Edward VII Hospital last week. She suffered a relapse on Sunday, prompting William to cancel an appearance at the British Military Tournament.

Still in the first trimester, there’s a reasonable chance the duchess will be back in hospital before this child is born. "It tends to be a cycle of going into hospital, getting rehydrated, going home, getting dehydrated again because you're not getting intravenous fluids, and so on,” Caitlin Dean, a trustee with Pregnancy Sickness Support, told the Telegraph. “The duchess is still very ill by most people's standards and the chances of her going back to hospital are quite high.”

Prince williamDean goes on to offer some advice for those around Kate: no perfume, and no garlic. Both are nausea triggers and she doesn’t need any of those in her life right now.

William has been the ideal mate, taking compassionate leave from the RAF to be by his wife’s side. He did make a side trip to the Winter Whites Gala on the weekend (right, with tennis players Novak Djokovic and John McEnroe) which supports his Centrepoint charity. Asked about Kate, he remarked to some guests:  “I don’t know why they call it morning sickness -- they should call it all day and all night sickness. It’s a long old process but she is getting there. She feels like it is going to go on forever.”

Kate christmasKate isn’t expected to be venturing out before Christmas, and even then it’s uncertain where she’ll be spending the holiday. The Daily Mail reports that her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, would like her to spend it with them in Berkshire. However, the Royal Family usually reserves Christmas Day at Sandringham (right), where last year 3,000 came out to see Kate and the royal clan make their trek to church services.

It was thought that Sandringham might have been planned as the original site for a baby announcement by William and Kate. The morning sickness put an end to that surprise.

Christmas cheer back at the Palace

The party is back on for Queen Elizabeth.

QueenThe monarch must be sensing a turning tide in UK economic fortunes, since she has reinstated the staff Christmas party after it was cancelled two years ago as a show of solidarity with the “difficult financial circumstances” England was in. Now, she’s ready to shell out upwards of $160,000 from her private income to allow about 2,000 staffers to let loose at Buckingham Palace on Dec. 17.

The Queen usually hosts the event once every two years at Buckingham Palace. The guest list includes employees from the Queen’s estates as well as workers at Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Windsor Castle.

“Everyone is delighted it is back,” a Palace staffer told the Daily Express. “It is a rare opportunity for everyone to let their hair down and have a great night.”

It’s also a rare night of social mingling between staff and employer. For this day at least, much of the formality is forgotten.

“All the royals are there. They dance with the servants and it will be extra special because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the fantastic year she has had,” the Palace source said.

No word on whether the Duchess of Cambridge will attend, but it’s unlikely.

Queen snubbed on Fiji money

On the other side of the coin, so to speak, there must have been a frown or two at the Palace at the news that Fiji is removing the Queen from its currency.

Fiji moneyThe country’s bank has announced that the Queen’s image on its money will be replaced by pictures of Fijian flora and fauna, which has upset many of Fiji’s leaders.

“The decision to remove Her Majesty the Queen's head from Fiji's currency has been received with great shock and sadness,” one of the high chiefs, Adi Litia Qioniaravi, told Radio Australia. “The Royal Family is held in high regard especially by indigenous Fijians. … It is just most unfortunate that the chiefs’ views again had not been sought on this very critical matter.”

Fiji is a republic run by the military, which has seized control several times in the past 20 years and is led by Frank Bainimarama. Charges of undemocratic practices led to its suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations in 2010.

The man who led Fiji's first coup in 1987, General Sitiveni Rabuka, says removing the Queen is a “childish” move.

"In 1970 we became independent, but Australia, New Zealand and Canada were independent before us and they still use the Queen's head on their currency.

"We have forgotten the colonial past -- we are now moving to the future, but there are certain things we cannot change. We can remove the Queen's head but that doesn't mean we erase our history."

Members of the Royal Family have been on Fiji money since 1934.

The head of the bank says it’s simply time to move on and promote Fiji’s natural treasures.

 

12/10/2012

The blame game rages on over Jacintha Saldanha's death

Hosts
Sydney-based 2DayFM radio presenters Michael Christian, left, and Mel Greig speak during an interview with Seven Network's current affairs program "Today Tonight" in Sydney on Monday. The 2DayFM announcers said the tragedy had left them "shattered, gutted, heartbroken". (Reuters)

A woman died ... guilt must be assigned to someone.

FamilyThat is the sad reality of the bizarre and tragic turn of events that has enveloped a hospital, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a radio station, two DJs and Jacintha Saldanha's family (right: daughter Lisha, husband Ben Barboza and son Junal).

The cries for blood and blame have rung from Britain to Australia and all ports in between. The British press, no slouches at intrusive tactics to spark circulation, instinctively went on the attack. 

Jacintha_saldanha(1)“It feels as through the British media are on a witch hunt,” Sandy Kaye, a spokeswoman for the parent company of 2Day FM, Southern Cross Austereo, told the Daily Telegraph.

“It is quite easy to blame us … The Australian industry seems to sit quite fairly behind us. ... It was only supposed to be a harmless prank.”

The grief-striken human faces  -- Saldanha's family and, yes, even radio hosts Michael Christian and Mel Greig -- are the front cover to what seems to be a larger question about ethics.

To get an idea of the scope of this tragedy and its subsequent soul searching, we've gathered a sampling of the opinions and editorials from the British and Aussie press below. Then, we ask you the question: Who do you blame?

Mirror (UK):

"Oh, the crimes that are committed in this world by people who are just “having a bit of a laugh”.

The Aussie funsters who made their prank call to the hospital where Kate was recovering did not mean to hurt anyone.

They did not intend to drive the tricked nurse to suicide.

But they have blood on their hands and they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

Because every prank is laced with spite, and behind the mocking laughter of the clever ones there is real and virulent cruelty.

Sun (UK):

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha's grieving family and friends are entitle to be angry at the crass Australian radio hoaxers who apparently drove her to suicide.

And the station, with its history of offensive antics, cannot pretend it was blind to the stunt’s folly.

Police have launched an inquiry. Some critics want the hoaxers charged with manslaughter.

But the last thing we want is yet another witch hunt.

This sad story is a matter for a coroner's inquest, not mob justice.

Sam Leith in London Evening Standard:

What they did — with the approval and encouragement of their employers, and in the certain knowledge that it would amuse their audience — was tasteless and intrusive.

But let’s not be idiots about this. ... The faintest self-examination, the faintest whiff of actual moral clarity would force us to recognise that the original transgression isn’t changed a jot, morally, by what came afterwards. Anything else is a vicious mixture of sentimentality and bullying.

If we had considered it an outrage for which the DJs should have been tarred and feathered, threatened with death, slung out of their jobs and denounced from the front page of every newspaper in the Western world, we should have called it so at the time.

I don’t remember that happening. Do you? Truth told, I think we may have sniggered.

Daily Star (UK):

Whoever thought it was a good idea to prank call a hospital, trying to get a sick pregnant woman on the phone by trickery, should be sacked.

That’s even without the tragic consequences of the Australian radio station’s Duchess of Cambridge stunt which led to the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

Radio boss Rhys Holleran doesn’t agree. “We’ve followed procedures,” he said. “We haven’t done anything illegal.”

For a start, many experts think they have broken the law. If he has followed procedures, everyone who came up with those procedures needs to join the dole queue.

Scumbag Holleran’s first orderof business should be to sign a hefty cheque to Jacintha’s family to help bring up her two kids. His second should be to disappear into the Outback for good.

Daily Express (UK):

... Despite international public outrage and a family's keen grief, management at the Australian station is digging in.

Rhys Holleran, head of Austereo which owns 2Day FM, said no one could have "reasonably foreseen" the tragic outcome of this puerile prank.

Incredibly ... regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority had not launched an investigation despite a deluge of complaints and a clear breach of its code. It's hard to see how the show did not treat all those involved in a "highly demeaning or highly exploitative manner."

Jenny McCartney takes a royals perspective in The Telegraph (UK):

FlowersWe live in an age that devours trivia like manna, and its most zealous peddlers will trample on lives in order to seize it. The value is meaningless, but the price to individuals caught up in the chase is high.

... Kate seems a more robust, resilient personality than Diana, and her marriage to William is happier and less complicated than Diana’s was to Charles. Whether one is a royalist or not, it is possible to admire the way she consistently displays grace under pressure, but that is no argument for intensifying the pressure. One could understand if – amid their happiness over the pregnancy – Kate and William were already feeling besieged. The worst invasions of their privacy -- the long-lens photographs of Kate sunbathing topless in France, and this hoax hospital call -- have come from media sources outside Britain. As we have repeatedly seen, the boundaries of normal, respectful behaviour are invisible but powerful: break through them and the human consequences can be unpredictable and disastrous.

This most recent incident, one must hope, might come as an international wake-up call to back off.

Bel Mooney writing on at Daily Mail (UK):

"His female co-host Mel Greig thought this (phone prank) would be 'awesome.' That, in turn, shows a very moder take on the word 'awe' -- which correctly implies respect as well as wonder. Never mind the ethics or legality of the broadcast, there was no respect for anybody's feeling in his sorry incident; no hint of decency or basic human compassion.

Now an innocent woman is dead, her family bereaved and bewildered, and the whole world knows the story -- the thoughtless joke doesn't seem funny at all, least of all to the shamed perpetrators.

To me, it never was. ... I saw the prank as another example of the casual, tacky, thoughtless cruelty that has infected popular culture like a plague -- on radio, on television and increasingly on Twitter and other social media outlets."

The Australian:

... The broader lesson here is about the consequences of a superficial news cycle and unthinking devotion to it. As if the prank wasn't foolish enough, the British press, driven by the public's insatiable appetite for royal gossip, piled on to the story.

Rather tha dismiss it and move on, every angle was amplified and the hospital was firmly in the media's sights. It was "an astonishing breach" of royal security; hospital management were "horrified" and palace staff were "furious." Prince Charles showed poise and common sense by simply passing it off with a joke. But in this age of digital outrage and trial by twitter too many tweet first and think later. The media cyclone is conjured up and does its damage very quickly before moving on. While fingers tap on smartphones to vote on whether the radio hosts should keep their jobs, the need for new laws or whether the duchess will have a boy or girl, a family and a hospital are left to grieve for one of their own. The coroner will inquire and the London tabloids will look for their next angle. Sadly, in this case, one woman's world has come to an end.

But if there is a salient warning for all of us it must be to keep perspective on what matters, reserve judgment, and not get stuck in frenzied and superficial moments.

Sydney Morning Herald:

The problem was, in trying to get the Duchess on air, which was their stated goal, the presenters blithely ignored the ramifications for those who would be their conduits -- the nurses whose job it was to protect and care for their patient. They lost sight of how humiliating and potentially damaging it might be for these people. Remember, the nurses were not the intended target; that is clear from a transcript of the call. The aim was to get an ill woman onto their radio station. For a laugh. But the humiliation fell on those who were conned. They were the victims of this prank, and at no stage were they given any opportunity to set things right.

... We all need to dig deep to find the basic ethical rules that define proper human conduct. Sometimes the failure to follow the unwritten, simple rules of decency and respect that guide us as individuals in a community can have profound and tragic consequences.

Herald Sun (Australia):

The real culprits are not so much the 2Day FM jocks who duped Jacintha Saldanha into believing she was speaking to the Queen and Prince Charles, but the people who run the station.

... Radio executives know their ratings rely on the outrageous and, while they would not want to see anyone driven to suicide, humiliation is a different matter.

This time, however, laws have been broken.

Of course, 2Day FM says it tried to ring back to tell the unfortunate nurse she had been recorded and would it be all right to broadcast her embarrassment to the world, but this time no one answered the phone.

The station should be fined for breaking the law, not because of a prank involving the Duchess of Cambridge that went dreadfully wrong.

A stronger message needs to be sent than blaming two radio hosts who (Monday) night spent a lot of time being sorry for themselves.

David Penberthy of The Telegraph (Australia):

Those who are jumping on the bandwagon and directing their fury at a couple of giggly radio hosts over the tragic but unforeseeable death of a troubled British nurse should ask themselves a couple of questions.

The first is whether their rage is in any way approximate to the actions of this pair, who if they had any idea of the consequences of their light-hearted joke would clearly never have gone down that path.

The second is whether the extent of this rage -- more than 21,000 emails, many of them hateful and violent, have now been sent to their radio station -- is so over the top that it could even help generate the same kind of psychological pressure which saw this poor nurse take her own life.

... This case is just completely tragic and also completely bizarre. However the orgy of abuse, posturing and cant it has unleashed is completely unsurprising given the modern enthusiasm for joining the lynch mob."


12/08/2012

Outrage and grief pour out over nurse's death after royal prank call

D9bdf54000d34d1ea9ebThe first image of Jacintha Saldanha made its way around the world on Saturday morning, a blurry head shot of the nurse who, in death, has become a lightning rod for the outrage that has erupted over a prank call.

In the wake of the tragedy that unfolded during the Duchess of Cambridge's stay at King Edward VII Hospital, there has been a mass outpouring of both sympathy for the family and anger at the Australian radio station that originated the call.

The chairman of King Edward VII  Hospital, Lord Glenarthur, has written to the head of the company that owns the station about the "appalling" prank that resulted in the "humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients."

“The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words,” he wrote.

It was Saldanha, 46, who was on duty at the switchboard when two hosts of an Australian radio station, 2Day FM, decided to try to get through to the Duchess of Cambridge's room at King Edward VII Hospital on Tuesday night.

Saldanha answered, transferred the call from someone she thought was the Queen, and that was it ... until chaos erupted when the call was found to be a hoax.

Whatever spun through Saldanha's mind over the next 48 hours, no one knows. All that is known is that she was found dead on Friday morning, which many are calling a suspected suicide, though he police only say that her death wasn't "suspicious."

The Australian radio station has been swamped with complaints over the prank which has turned so horribly wrong. At a press conference, Rhys Holleran, the CEO of the station's parent company, expressed sympathies to all involved, but stopped short of admitting any guilt.

157941298"Prank calls as a craft in radio have been going for decades and decades, they are not just part of one radio station, or one network or one country, they are done worldwide," said Holleran (right). "No one could have reasonably foreseen what ended up being an incredibly tragic day."

As for the hosts, Mel Greig and Christian Michael, they have been pulled off the air until further notice. The Twitter world has been awash in calls for their dismissal.

"I spoke to both presenters early this morning and it's fair to say they are completely shattered," said Holleran. "These people aren't machines, they're human beings. What happened is incredibly tragic and we're deeply saddened and we're incredibly affected by that."

Holleran insisted no laws had been broken. The audio of the original prank call had been vetted by station lawyers before it went to air.

Saldanha, a married mother of a teenaged son and daughter, apparently came to England from India about nine years ago and settled in Bristol. She had been working at the King Edward VII Hospital for four years. She would stay in London while working and travel back to her Bristol home on off days.

The hospital has insisted that the nurse was never disciplined over the hoax.

Her husband, Benedict Barboza, a hospital accountant, wrote on his Facebook page: "I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jahintha in tragic circumstances. She will be laid to rest in Shirva, India."

Barboza relayed the news to her family in India.

"Jacintha was a very caring woman," her mother-in-law Carmine Barboza told the Daily Mail. "She used to call us every Sunday without fail. We just cannot believe what has happened."

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they were "deeply saddened" by the tragedy and added that at no time did they complain about the breach of protocol that led to the prank call uncovering private information about Kate's condition as she battled acute morning sickness.

515863020
A bunch of flowers is left outside the nurses accommodation block by colleagues near the King Edward VII Hospital on Saturday in memory of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who was found dead the previous day. (AFP/Getty Images)

 

MORE: Dimanno: Nurse was a ictim of a cruel culture

 

 

12/06/2012

Pregnant Kate has her smile back after hospital stay

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 our blog entry in the wake of the Duchess of Cambridge's release from hospital on Thursday:

Kate

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave King Edward VII Hospital on Thursday morning. (Getty Images)

The clock is ticking ... and not just on the much-awaited royal heir.

The future path of Prince William & Family is being scrutinized daily as circumstances and the calendar converge on the Duke of Cambridge at year's end.

Kate left hospital on Thursday -- "I'm feeling much better, thank you," she told the media horde outside the front doors of King Edward VII Hospital -- but she is expected to stay close to London and her doctors, living at their Kensington Palace cottage. While her acute morning sickness has abated for the time being, it has been known to stay with moms-to-be through an entire pregnancy, even with medication.

Kate3Prince William, meanwhile, is due back at work in Wales next week to keep up the flying hours he needs in his job as an RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot. With royal duties often breaking his routine, he has only been able to meet minimum flying hours.

By the end of the year, he's expected to make a choice: 1) continue in the RAF search-and-rescue after his stint is up in the summer of 2013, 2) switch to another branch of the Armed Forces that would allow for more royal duties, or, 3) take up royal duties full-time.

This latest medical turn may push William more in the direction of staying close to London, which means giving up his much-loved job at RAF Valley. The Telegraph quotes insiders that he is considering the Household Cavalry, which would keep him based in and around London.

That seems a likely compromise, given that the couple is already deep into shifting their home base from a two-bedroom cottage at Kensington to a more permanent 20-room residence in the palace -- the late Princess Margaret's Apartment 1-A.

To complicate matters, the move, which was expected to be early in the next year, has reportedly been pushed back to October because of asbestos removal and the larger-than-expected laundry list of renovations needed for the apartment.

That means the couple -- and their new arrival -- could have a little shuttle service going on between their rented farmhouse in Wales and their current Kensington rooms.

In the meantime, Prince William will be representing his little family at royal engagements. Kate isn't likely to emerge in the public light until the royals make their annual journey to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day.

The pair had three appearances planned in the next week -- the Winter Whites gala Saturday, the British Military Tournament on Sunday and the premiere of 'The Hobbit' next Wednesday.

As for Kate, she looked a little peaked, but not at all too bad after emerging from her three-day hospital stay. (A trip to her hairdresser on her likely agenda.)

Smiling and holding flowers, she and William posed for the gallery of photographers across the street before climbing into a waiting Jaguar.

Kate 2
Prince WiIliam and Kate pose for pictures as they leave King Edward VII Hospital in London. (AFP/Getty Images)

Kate2The Duchess of Cambridge leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London on Thursday. She has been battling acute morning sickness. (AFP/Getty Images)

GRANDPA-TO-BE CHARLES 'THRILLED'

Charles
Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Prince Charles share a joke Thursday at The Coldest Journey launch on board the SA Agulhas, the ship for Fiennes' polar expedition to be the first to cross Antarctica in winter. The expedition is raising funds for Seeing is Believing, the global charitable campaign tackling preventable and treatable blindness. (Getty Images)

Prince Charles, grandfather-to-be, made his first public comments on the pregnancy on Thursday, but couldn't resist referencing the prank call made by a couple of Australian radion hosts to the hospital.

As reporters shot questions at him about Kate's condition, Charles deadpanned: "How do you know I'm not a radio station?" 

Quips aside, the Prince of Wales said was "thrilled" by the news. "It's a very nice thought to become a grandfather in my old age."

As for that radio station prank call, Australia's media watchdog has admitted receiving complaints about the stunt on Tuesday night that saw a couple of radio host get through via phone to a nurse on Kate's floor at the hospital, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles.

Despite the terrible impersonations, the DJs pulled off the prank, eliciting some condition information on Kate. The station later apologized and the hospital was left red-faced at its protocol breach. The hosts tried to make light of it on their broadcast Thursday, saying they were stunned that they were able to go as far as they did with the call.


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)

 

12/04/2012

Pregnant Kate "feeling better" as William smiles after hospital visit

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Prince William leaves after visting his wife Catherine at King Edward VII Hospital in London on Tuesday. (Reuters)

First it was elation, then worry, and now relief.

The Royal Family and its fans have gone through a roller-coaster 24 hours -- first with the not-as-planned pregnancy announcement, then a tense period as the Duchess of Cambridge went to hospital with a rare condition of acute morning sickness, and now with some comforting words from the Palace that all is well.

WilliamKate is "continuing to feel better," said a release from St. James's Palace, just as Prince William was finishing his visit with Kate on Day 2 of her stay at London's King Edward VII Hospital on Tuesday.

He emerged from a day by his wife's side with a smile on his face, having been reassured of Kate's health after meeting with her doctors.

The horde of media continued to camp outside the hospital playing their waiting game, but there was little to come from official sources, although a St. James's spokesperson did say that Kate and William were "immensely grateful for the good wishes they have received."

He added that the duchess will remain in hospital "at present" for continued treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum.

She had been on an IV drip to hydrate her as she combats the illness which kept her vomiting through the weekend while staying at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury.

Kate is somewhere in her third month of pregnancy. Originally, reports are that the couple didn't plan on revealing the pregnancy until 12 weeks, which would have made a nice Christmas present for the Royal Family at the Queen's annual get-together at Sandringham.

Her type of morning sickness condition strikes only in about 2 per cent of pregnancies, the sufferers being mainly women giving birth for the first time, or ones expecting a multiple birth. The medical literature suggests that women with the condition are three times more likely to give birth to more than one child than other women.

That prospect led to a whole new round of speculation in the media. The last set of royal twins were born to Denmark's Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederick in January 2011. 

This form of morning sickness also leads to severe dehydration, hence the caution of entering hospital.

BabyIt also leads to a change in the betting shops around Britain. The odds of Kate having twins dropped from 50-1 to 8-1 at Paddy Power. Bets can also be placed on the name, weight, sex, hair colour, time of birth and even godparents (Prince Harry's favoured, but David Beckam is 22-1).

The Telegraph consulted a spreadsheet of baby statistics to determine that in all likelihood, Will and Kate's child will be a girl who will grow to about 5-foot-10. This is based on Kate's current condition (which results in 56 per cent chance of a girl), and a study showing that men who were pilots (ie. William) were slightly more likely to have daughters.

Whatever the sex, the child would become third in line for the throne behind Prince Charles and William. The Commonwealth countries agreed last year to rid the Royal Marriages Act of its gender bias toward male heirs.

If there were twins, the first one to enter the world would be the heir.

Media
Members of the media wait outside the King Edward VII hospital in London on Tuesday, awaiting any sign of royal visitors. (Reuters)

Papers
There was no debate over what made the front page in UK's national newspapers for Tuesday morning. (Getty Images)

12/03/2012

Duchess Kate pregnant: Morning sickness prompts early release of baby news

Balcony
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge have announced they are expecting their first child, ending speculation that has been going on since they were married 19 months ago. (Getty Images)

Finally, the speculation can stop.

Yes, Prince William and Kate are expecting their first child.

The news swept over Twitter on Monday morning in a flash, unleashing a torrent of congratulations and sending the Clarence House web servers into meltdown mode.

157464899The couple is "delighted," of course, though the mom-to-be is feeling some ill effects from her condition. She is spending the next few days in King Edward VII Hospital with what the Palace calls "hypermesis gravidarum" -- or acute morning sickness. It affects about one in 50 women, most often those in their first pregnancy or expecting a multiple birth.

Given the timing, it looks like an early-summer baby is in the works, one that will immediately become third in line for the throne -- whether boy or girl -- behind its granddad Prince Charles and  Prince William (right, leaving hospital Monday night). That would knock Prince Harry down to fourth in line.

The Telegraph reports that Kate found out last month that she was pregnant, but wanted to wait until she was 12 weeks along before going public. The plan was to tell the families during the Queen's annual family Christmas as Sandringham.

For those counting the days, it means the child may have been conceived during the couple's tour of southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The Duchess was visiting her parents in Bucklebury over the weekend -- fresh off a Friday engagement at her old school St. Andrew's -- when she took ill. Prince William, who was with friends for the weekend, went to Bucklebury early Monday and, sources said, was concerned that his wife couldn't keep down food or water. After talking to their doctor and fearing she may become dehydrated, William took her by Land Rover to hospital. She walked in unaided.

The Daily Mail reports that other members of the Royal Family were in the dark about the pregnancy until Monday's turn of events and found out about an hour before the news was released about 4 p.m. London time.

Hockey"The pregnancy is in its very early stages -- the couple only found out very recently that they were expecting," said one source. "But because she has been admitted to hospital and will have to stay in a for a few days, they made the difficult decision to make things public."

Speculation about a royal baby has been going on since the day Will and Kate were married, April 29, 2011. As recently as two weeks ago, one of Kate's former schoolmates, Jessica Hay, said that Kate was pregnant and would announce it before Christmas.

Kate was putting up a pretty good front for a woman with child last week. While attending St. Andrew's Day, she didn't hesitate in picking up a field hockey stick and bound over the turf in high heels (right).

The Duchess had a number of royal appointments this week, but they've all been cancelled, said St. James's Palace, though Prince William will likely go solo on a few of them this weekend.

The betting shops wasted no time in putting odds on the baby's name. William Hill lists Frances and John at 9-1, followed by George, Victoria and Diana. Of course, you can also bet on whether it's a boy or girl, the day of the week it's born, its hair colour (blonde is 2-1), and weight.

The girl would be a third great-grandchild for the 86-year-old Queen. Peter Phillips -- Princess Anne's son -- and Autumn Phillips have two daughters.

WHO WILL THE BABY LOOK LIKE? ....

Prince William baby

Young kateWho will the baby look like? Above, 6-month-old William is fascinated by a toy dangled by his mother Princess Diana while Prince Charles keeps tight hold of his son. Right, here's Kate Middleton as a three-and-a-half year old.

 

 

 

 

Prince-harry-and-william-piano
Prince William is joined by his year-old brother Harry in 1985 at the piano.

Prince Charles baby

Queen Elizabeth, still just a princess, looks down at her firstborn son, Charles, six weeks after he was born Nov. 14, 1948.

THE GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

Princess Elizabeth

Prince Philip as babyThe future Queen, above, was born April 21, 1926. Right, it's a very young Prince Philip -- age 13 months. He was born June 10, 1921 on the Greek island of Corfu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GREAT GREAT GRANDPARENTS

King George VI as baby

Queen Mother babyAbove, Prince Albert is held by his mother the Duchess of York in 1896, when he was a year old. Later, he would become King George VI and she would be Queen Mary. Right, the future mother of Queen Elizabeth II as a tot, circa 1901.

 

 

 

 

11/30/2012

Duchess Kate goes down memory lane at childhood school

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The Duchess of Cambridge sharpens up her field hockey skills (big heels and all) at her old school, St Andrew's, on Friday in Pangbourne, Berkshire. (Getty Images)

There's not a whole lot of time for trips down memory lane for the Duchess of Cambridge these days, but there was no resisting the indulgence on Friday.

157228451Wearing a tartan Alexander McQueen coat of blue and green, matching nicely with the green school uniforms, Kate returned to St. Andrew's in Pangbourne, Berkshire, where she spent the formative years of her life (age 4-13).

"They were some of my happiest years, which makes it so incredibly special to be here today," she said in a short speech before joining in on a day of activities at the school's annual St. Andrew's Day (video below).

"In fact, I enjoyed it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mother that I was going to come back to be a teacher. While that didn't quite happen, I was thrilled to have been asked back today on St. Andrew's Day.

"It was while I was here at school that I realized my love of sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces -- though sadly there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time."

She also let slip that her nickname at school was Squeak. It's only appropriate, then, that her sister Pippa was 'Pip.' See remembered that a couple of guinea pigs at the school were also named Pip and Squeak.

During the two-hour visit, she toured the school (as if she might not remember every inch of it), visited staff and students, and picked up a field hockey stick again as she opened a new playing field covered with AstroTurf (beward the heel marks, Kate). She also joined students for lunch, featuring  Scottish roast beef and something called Birdseed pudding, a concoction of flapjack and rice crispie cake.

Kate field hockeyKate attended the school from 1986 to 1995 after she and her family returned to Berkshire from two and a half years in Jordan. The private school was the scene of her greatest sporting triumphs. She held records for high jump and long jump, and was the star on the field hockey team (right).

"She was very hard working, very polite and friendly, (and) very kind to the younger children." Deputy Head Richard Hudson told the BBC.

A former classmate recalled the days she and Kate had at St. Andrew's as "idyllic."

"She was a really lovely, warm girl who didn't have a bad bone in her body. I couldn't speak of her more highly," she told the Daily Mail. "In some ways she was rather quiet and unassuming, but she excelled on the sports field and was definitely one of our golden girls."

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Kate waves to young students during her visit to St Andrew's School on Friday. (AFP/Getty Images)

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Kate hockeyKate keeps up with the play, suede high heel boots and all, as she takes part in a day of activities and festivities on the new turf to mark the occasion of St Andrew's Day in Pangbourne. (Getty Images)

Hockey team
Kate Middleton, front row centre, with her St. Andrew's hockey team.

Tennis team
Can you find the future duchess in this photo of the St. Andrew's tennis team from the early 1990s? She's in the back row, third from the left.

 

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