Archbishop of Canterbury Sounds Off on Kate Middleton Conspiracy Theories

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Kate Middleton

The Church of England’s top bishop sounded off on the rampant spread of online rumors the royal family has continued to face following Kate Middleton’s surgery earlier this year.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has served in his role since 2013, shared his thoughts on conspiracy theories in general when the U.K.-based Times Radio asked him about the rumors that have swirled around the Princess of Wales since she was hospitalized for what Kensington Palace referred to as a “planned abdominal surgery” in mid-January.

Kate has mostly stayed out of the public eye since her surgery and isn’t expected to fully return to her royal duties until sometime after Easter. However, a recent photo editing scandal that some royal watchers now refer to as “#KateGate” fueled rumors that first popped up around the time of her surgery about her health and her relationship with Prince William.

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Though Welby avoided mentioning the princess by name, his comments to Times Radio about health and personal privacy appeared to parallel the media frenzy currently surrounding Kate.

“I think we are obsessed with conspiracy, and we have little sense of the humanity of those who are caught in the glare of the news,” Welby said. “People should be allowed to be ill, have an operation, whatever it is, and to live their lives in peace without everyone demanding that they prove something every other day.”

Welby’s perspective on conspiracy theories surfaced more than a week after Kensington Palace shared a photo of Kate with her three children for Mother’s Day, which the U.K. celebrated on March 10. News agencies later pulled the photo from circulation, citing signs of image manipulation.

In the wake of the photo editing scandal, fans of the royal family have seemed less trusting of recent images and video clips of the princess, with some questioning whether they too were edited or manufactured entirely to ease the public’s mind. The speed with which new theories surrounding the images and videos spread is part of the problem, according to Welby, who said the internet is to blame for enabling rumors to “run riot.”

“It’s just old-fashioned village gossip that can now go ‘round the world in seconds,” Welby told Times Radio. “We have to turn away from that.”

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