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Commentary Relays Edition

Princess Kate and her Platform

Singer Chappell Roan, stand over a piano and sings "Kaleidoscope." More celebrities have been championing causes and organizations that they care about, a defiant shift from when the Dixie Chicks were dethroned for commenting on former President George W. Bush.  The British royal family should take note. Photo by Meghan Holloran | Photo Editor 

Public figures have an opportunity to use their platform for good, and in today’s digital age, their platform is bigger than ever. In recent years, public figures have used social media to educate their followers, shown their solidarity with lapel pins and ribbons on the red carpet and shared very personal stories to amplify the challenges of others. 

Most recently, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, and King Charles III revealed to the public — after much urging — that they were diagnosed with cancer, and I see this as an opportunity.

Other popular celebrities have been using their platforms for years to express their opinions.

Olivia Rodrigo donated a portion of ticket sales to her Fund 4 Good, a play on her hit song “Good 4 You.” “The Fund 4 Good works to support all women, girls, and people seeking reproductive health freedom,” Rodrigo said before she kicked off her Guts world tour back in February.

Since then, Rodrigo invited reproductive care activists and advocates to hand out condoms and Plan B morning-after pills before her concerts to raise awareness for reproductive care. She was forced to stop doing this for her Minneapolis show due to backlash, but she has continued to be vocal about the importance of reproductive care.

Singer Chappell Roan donated a portion of her ticket sales to For the Gworls, a collective that fundraises money “to help Black transgender people pay for their rent, gender-affirming surgeries, smaller co-pays for medicines/doctor’s visits, and travel assistance.” Taylor Swift also has a long history of donating to charities close to her heart.

However, money isn’t the only way celebrities can show their support. They all have a powerful voice, and they should use it whenever possible.

On March 22, Princess Kate announced her cancer diagnosis. The reveal came after weeks of speculation about where she was, despite statements from the royal family that she would be stepping back from the public spotlight while she underwent abdominal surgery and recovery.

In her statement, Princess Kate asked for privacy for her and her young family as she navigated this challenging medical diagnosis. While I believe Princess Kate deserves privacy, I also think she has a responsibility as a public figure too.

If Princess Kate and her family wanted total privacy, they could renounce their titles and be ordinary people. That’s exactly what William and Harry’s great-grandfather’s brother, King Edward VIII, did when he abdicated the throne, and that’s kind of what Harry and Meghan did, although they still profit off their fame in other ways. The British monarchy is just a figurehead at this point, so Kate and her family have no obligation to remain in their position of power.

If Princess Kate wants to stay in the public eye, she should be using her status as literal royalty to champion for money and time put into research for a cure. Because of her royal status, she has access to the best healthcare in the world! I don’t want to jinx it because I genuinely want her to recover, but it is almost certain that she will survive this diagnosis because she has the resources to make her well.

Not everyone is so lucky. From 2016 to 2018, 375,400 people were diagnosed with cancer in the United Kingdom. Of those cases, 167,142 people died between 2017 and 2019 from cancer-related causes. 

Since the mid-20th century, United States First Ladies have championed a cause that matters to them, from preventing drug addiction to children’s literacy and healthy eating. The royal family covers so many causes because they are all worthy, but this is Kate’s opportunity to add a personal touch to her charitable work: to share her own story with the public in the hopes of saving others faced with the same cancer diagnosis as her.

At the end of the day, public figures have privilege, and they can use that privilege to champion the rights of others and causes that are important to them. To those who say celebrities shouldn’t use their platform for politics, I say that the personal has become political, and public figures should continue to use their privilege for good.


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