Updated: Monday, 3rd August 2020 @ 2:43pm

My Big Mouth: Obsession and frenzy over Royal Family to blame for tragic nurse 'suicide', not one prank call

My Big Mouth: Obsession and frenzy over Royal Family to blame for tragic nurse 'suicide', not one prank call

By Jeremy Culley

Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian are either terrific actors or they were genuinely devastated at the apparent suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

There was no way such waves of emotion could have been faked in interviews this week, as the duo came to terms with the death of the woman who disclosed information about Kate Middleton’s extreme morning sickness to them.

But they managed to convey one firm defence – how could they have predicted a facetious phone call, made amidst the joy of an impending addition to the Royal Family, having such tragic consequences?

They could not is the answer.

The phone call was reckless, in poor taste and, despite the number being dialled down under rather than by a member of the UK’s much-maligned media, once again highlighted a startling absence of press ethics.

But, this death – despite the screams from those still giddily condemning the press in the wake of Lord Justice Leveson’s report – was not the fault of those two DJs.

They will suffer enough. Their careers are probably over, their names will forever be associated with the desperate tale and the sense of media-induced guilt will never leave them.

The reality is that everyone in society – and, in particular, journalists – should look at themselves.

Kate’s pregnancy was, of course, good news, with the anticipated birth giving our monarchy a set structure for several generations.

But, it was surely not worth the astonishingly hysterical public and press reaction.

It almost seemed as if a starting gun had been sounded, with world leaders sprinting to the nearest microphone to express their best wishes to Kate and Prince William.

Australia’s PM Julia Gillard even did so in a high-vis jacket on a building site for goodness sake.

The press swarmed the streets outside the King Edward VII hospital, desperately seeking an update or, even better, a predictable shot of William leaving the building.

Suddenly, the nation – and many parts of the world – had descended into royal baby frenzy.

Would it be a girl and make relevant David Cameron’s move to change accession laws?

Twitter could not provide the answer, despite the explosion of royal baby tweets either revelling in the moment or cynically deriding the world’s obsession with an unborn child.

These cynics had a point, though, regardless of appearing hypocritical in airing their views on a subject they dismissed as irrelevant.

Between 400-450,000 babies will be born in the UK before the royal baby makes its glorious first appearance.

Admittedly, none of them are future rulers of Britain or the product of the prince and his attractive, paparazzi-loved wife.

But, if our dramatic, reactionary approach to the Royal Family was just slightly cautioned, perhaps events such as those that seemingly led to Mrs Saldanha taking her life would not happen.

The DJs – albeit in a way obviously intended as a joke – wanted some exclusive information on the pregnancy to share with listeners.

Such was the desire of their producers to use William and Kate’s news to boost listener ratings, the comedy went too far and the DJs made an ill-judged decision.

They continued to press Mrs Saldanha for private information about Kate’s condition when they should have ended the call.

With the benefit of hindsight they would definitely have done so, and those in the industry are certainly profiting from retrospect by self-righteously condemning the pair.

They cannot be blamed for our fascination with every aspect of the Royal Family.

This young couple deserve space, privacy and respect during Kate’s pregnancy, but it seems unlikely they will get it.

The media will continue to harangue them and compete for an exclusive insight.

There will be fears of a miscarriage, prematurity or long-lasting stretch marks for mother Kate.

Rapturous attention will be devoted to them throughout because our society has an insatiable thirst for royal gossip.

Tragically, until it is quenched, the frenzy will occasionally claim victims.    

Picture courtesy of AppaIoosa, with thanks.

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