Give Kate some privacy

Kate Middleton, our princess of dreams, is slowly becoming dismembered. Just as her sister was reduced to a pair of ripe buttocks by the sexy gaze of the media back in April, now Kate faces a similar Boxing Helena fate - but is destined to be a walking womb rather than a walking bum.

Photos of Kate last month showed that she was holding her hands near her stomach. Aha, she must be preggers! More prosaic explanations for the pictures - for example, that she didn't have any pockets, so where was she meant to put her hands? - could be swept aside. "So what's making Kate so happy?" nudged the Daily Mail, along with the Daily Express and Daily Star, which also carried the photo on their front pages. Maybe she'd met someone she knew? Maybe she was having a nice time? Maybe she likes doing princess things and being a princess? Instead, with a wink here and a nod there, we get the picture: Kate might be pregnant!

You might argue that that's all a princess of the realm ever is - a pretty face, a nice wave and very little else; someone to wear pretty dresses and then squirt out a kid when the Crown demands it.

You might say that's the career that Middleton chose when she decided to become part of a cobweb-ridden, old aristocratic family from her "common" roots.

I don't agree. Surely this person, regardless of whether or not she is a princess, is a human being, a woman with ambitions, a person with a being, with a soul? We don't see William as essentially being a pair of testicles.

When it comes to William, we look beyond the gonads and see a person. We don't just think: "Oh, come on, Wills, your role is to pump out some blue-blooded semen, so let's get on with it."

We don't linger over photographs of his crotch, wondering whether he is about to produce the royal fluids to extend the family line. We just let him get on with it.

But that's not a freedom that we extend to his better half: she is destined to be a barren womb, until such time as she becomes pregnant, and then that's that; her work will have been done.

Nudge effect

Despite the Leveson inquiry, the media landscape doesn't look much different from the bad old days. As ever, speculation about the pregnancy (or otherwise) of a public figure is a rather unpleasant thing if the person in question hasn't chosen to make it public, or hasn't reached the stage
at which such things should be made public.

Aren't these things, you know, private - even for public figures? Or will every time Kate looks happy (or sad), or fat (or thin), or puts her hands near her belly (or not) be evidence that she might be up the duff?

Is that what we've come to, as a nation, in the way we see our public figures? If so, I find it all rather sad.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media

This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama