MANY of those who had participated in lurid social media speculation about the welfare and whereabouts of the Princess of Wales might now be reflecting on their conduct. 

And, once more, the behaviour of the press will come under scrutiny for appearing to fan much of the wild speculation. 

However, from what I could glean in the newspaper coverage and also on social media, most of the comment seemed rooted in sympathy and concern for her wellbeing. 

I’d be cautious about calling for the press to be lined up before firing squads. 

In Princess Kate, Britain’s royal family have a class act. Her public statement about her cancer diagnosis was brave, dignified and eloquent. 

She is a young mother of three children and it became clear that any delay in communicating her illness to the public was probably because she and her husband were seeking to help them process the news before it became public property.  

Most of the big tickets in the UK press and the BBC love the royal family and are united in admiration for the way that Princess Kate conducts herself.

Their support is crucial for them continuing in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. It’s doubtful that they’d be seeking to undermine them. 

READ MORE: The public picking apart of Kate Middleton reveals us at our ugliest

I’ve no abiding affection for the institution of monarchy, but have been compelled to conclude that a majority of people in the UK (including many in Scotland) retain a deep affection for the royal family, as much as for what they represent as for any of their human qualities. 

And besides, there is much more that needs urgent attention in Scotland and the UK than our relationship with the House of Windsor.

Health’s your wealth

WHEN the royal family encounter misfortune there is a temptation for republicans like me to temper any sympathy by citing the privileges they enjoy in their gilded lives. 

This, however, is surely ill-judged and inhumane. 

If we’re keen to advance the need for social equality and an end to unearned privilege then we must be consistent in our attitudes. If we start to withhold empathy and human affection merely on the basis of an individual’s wealth or status then we, too, are guilty of driving inequality. 

Effectively, we’re saying that they should be denied the basic human quality of compassion because we don’t regard them as fully human. 

We’re fond of saying that the royals and other people who enjoy power and privilege in society should be treated as “ordinary people”. And so they should: they are no better or worse than most of the rest of us. 

As human beings, though, they are also surely entitled to our unqualified sympathy when they encounter the real-life challenges the rest of us face. 

I’ve no doubt that Kate will be queen one day and I hope she ascends her throne free of the cancer for which she’s currently undergoing treatment.

And, if I, too, am spared, then I’ll get back to railing against the privileges and folderols of monarchy. 

In the meantime, I’ll remember her in my prayers and light a candle for her and her young family at Mass today.

The Herald:

Call of duty

NOT being a close observer of the misadventures and drama of Britain’s royals, I’m not really qualified to pass informed comment about their qualities as people.

That said, the Princess of Wales seems to embody the attributes many people admired in the late Queen Elizabeth: humility, forbearance, compassion, and a sense of duty to the people of her country. 

Many of us, however, are also eager to pass judgment on the other royals for their perceived malfeasances and failures. And perhaps some of this is justified when you indeed consider their advantages.

And yet, I can’t help thinking this: that unless we’re unblemished in the examples we set in our own more limited spheres of influence then we don’t really have the right to cast judgment on the personal conduct of those born into privilege. 

Palm reading

TODAY is Palm Sunday, one of the most profoundly sacred days in the Christian calendar.

It commemorates the day when Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey to be greeted by cheers and adulation and a carpet of palms. 

The Herald:

In the midst of this triumph, however, He knew that many in the crowd would soon be spitting at him as he made his way to his death on a cross at Calvary. 

So, may I crave your indulgence to reprint GK Chesterton’s great poem The Donkey written to commemorate this event? I feel its message has resonance for those who believe and those who don’t. 

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

I’m no literary critic but I feel that Mr Chesterton is telling me that Christianity means nothing if it doesn’t compel us to have a care for the world’s outcasts, oddballs, roasters, bangers, and rockets. 

God bless them all.