'The View' hosts fell down the Kate Middleton 'rabbit hole' too. Now they feel awful

The women of “The View” started their Monday with a public mea culpa for indulging in the frenzied speculation about Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, ahead of her sobering cancer disclosure.

Panelists Alyssa Farah Griffin, Sara Haines, Ana Navarro and Sunny Hostin went around the talk show’s Hot Topics table sheepishly sharing their apologies. Several specifically said that they regretted not listening to moderator Whoopi Goldberg last week when she discouraged them from playfully dissecting Kate Middleton sightings and conspiracy theories that were swirling around the “disappearing princess,” especially in the wake of Kensington Palace’s photo-editing fumble. (Co-host Joy Behar did not appear on Monday’s panel.)

Goldberg had insisted previously that they refrain from theorizing, saying that the British royal family deserved privacy. The women’s apologies came in the ABC series’ first episode since the princess’ Friday disclosure that she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy to treat cancer that was found after she had “major” abdominal surgery in January. The revelation quelled months of wild conjecture relating to the senior royal and drew well wishes from around the globe, as well as countless regrets from those who had misread the situation.

“I’m guilty of having gotten into the fun of ‘Where’s Kate?’ and thinking it’s funny and sharing the memes and playing into that,” Griffin said. “I forgot something fundamental that we all know, which is every person — whether they’re a princess, somebody at a high-privileged position or just the person next to you — is dealing with personal struggles that we don’t know about.”

Griffin, who said she feels awful about the “cruelty” and “casual meanness” that accompanied the discourse about the potential future queen, also said she believes Kensington Palace “totally mishandled the PR of this, but the public mishandled it” too.

“I didn’t think about there’s something more serious here that she’s dealing with, and I feel awful over it,” Griffin said.

“You just never know what someone’s going through,” Haines added, noting that the palace’s March 10 release of a doctored photo had ignited her curiosity.

“I’ve always questioned the way that the royal family handles women, because whether it was Princess Diana or Fergie or Meghan Markle, I was not blaming Kate for what was going on. It really bothered me the way it was handled — whether it should’ve been my business or not could be debated — but I do hope now for a speedy recovery,” Haines said.

The misguided discussion was “a teachable moment” for Navarro: “The lesson I learned was: When Whoopi Goldberg tells me to mind my own damn business, I will mind my own damn business from now on,” she said.

“It was very strange for me to fall down this rabbit hole but it was everywhere, right? There was an international frenzy. You couldn’t avoid it. It was actually in reputable news outlets, not just the tabloids…. It was everywhere. I fell down it because I think that that altered photo opened up a can of worms that we’ve all learned — there’s a bunch of internet sleuths out there who can notice every little thing and come up with conspiracy theories.”

Navarro said she felt bad about falling prey to the discourse and speculation, but rationalized that she thinks the speculation ran wild because Catherine is generally “well-loved and well-respected and valued and treasured in England.”

“I think we all like her because she’s like a bright spot in what has been a very dysfunctional royal family for decades and decades. She looks like such a great wife and mom. I feel like we all know her. So she asked for privacy. This Nicaraguan is going to give it to her. I’m going to shut my mouth about her and just wish her well, pray for her, hope that she and her family get through this process.”

Hostin said she’s “deeply remorseful” that she allowed Haines and Griffin to “drag” her down the rabbit hole too, because she generally doesn’t care that much about the British royals.

“I was very invested in how Meghan Markle said she was treated and it almost drove her to death by suicide. That’s one part of the family dynamic that I was pretty interested in,” she said, alluding to the firestorm that ensued when Prince William’s brother, Harry, and his wife sat for a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 in which they alleged racism and other deep-seated issues in the Firm, as well as Harry’s additional revelations in his 2023 memoir “Spare.”

The panelists then turned to Goldberg, waiting for her to say, “I told you so.” She didn’t.

“Listen, as I said, once you’ve had this experience, it can scar you. Because once those things begin to happen, everybody jumps on board and there’s no way to stop it. People don’t want to hear the truth … so I always think about the kids, because the kids, they’re hearing it from outside, they’re hearing it at school. Even [Catherine and William’s] kids.”

Indeed, in her video announcement, Catherine said she held off going public with her diagnosis because she wanted to explain everything to her and William’s three young children “in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.”

“If I think that there is an edge,” Goldberg said, “I’ll always say, ‘Listen, please, think about this,’ because what you don’t know is what we say here doesn’t stay here. It goes across the pond. It goes on the internet and people, as you know, manipulate stuff. They manipulate what you say.

“I don’t want people to misunderstand you all, I don’t want them thinking you’re making fun of somebody because they’re ill, because that’s what folks will say. But that was never the intention.”

Meanwhile, several think pieces have surfaced about the sobering reality of Catherine’s disclosure and the media’s role in forcing it, as well as apologies from those who piled on to the frenzied speculation.

“Gossip Girl” alum Blake Lively issued a public apology almost immediately Friday for teasing the royal in a campaign for her beverage brand on March 15.

“I’m sure no one cares today but I feel like I have to acknowledge this,” the actor wrote on Instagram Stories. “I made a silly post around the ‘photoshop fails’ frenzy, and oh man, that post has me mortified today. I’m sorry. Sending love and will wishes to all, always,”

Journalist and political activist Owen Jones regretted adding to the conjecture around Catherine’s whereabouts after a “kill” notice was issued on the manipulated family photo released by the family and quipping about being “all aboard the Kate Middleton truther express!”

“As someone who speculated on this without considering it could be a serious health condition, I’m very ashamed to be honest, and all the very best to her,” Jones wrote Friday, retweeting Catherine’s video announcement. Since then, the journalist has also called out the British media for blaming him for the frenzy instead of apologizing for their part in it.

On Sunday, Catherine and William, who is the heir apparent to the British throne, said that they were “extremely moved” by the public’s warmth after Catherine shared her diagnosis.

“The prince and princess are both enormously touched by the kind messages from people here in the U.K., across the Commonwealth and around the world in response to Her Royal Highness’ message,” a spokesperson for Kensington Palace told the Associated Press. “They are extremely moved by the public’s warmth and support and are grateful for the understanding of their request for privacy at this time.”

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