It’s been just over one week since Prince George of Cambridge was presented to the world by his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in an iconic pop culture moment on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. It was like Rafiki presenting Simba in "The Lion King" for the first time. (Cue "Circle of Life.") Except this was the second time. Princess Diana showed off Prince William as a newborn at the very same hospital.
And the similarities don't stop there. It was 1982 when Princess Di surfaced from the hospital wearing a loose-fitting green and white polka dot dress. This time around, Kate Middleton wearing a custom Jenny Packham blue dress with white polka dots, proudly displayed her postpartum bump when she handed the baby to all-grown-up Prince William.
The other thing that hasn't changed much is the media's relentless coverage of the princesses. The paparazzi are as aggressive as ever, tracking down Middleton in France last September as she sunbathed topless. And the tabloids are all too ready to publish them with a cover line that is going to sell the most rags. In the U.S., for instance, the magazine industry raked in an estimated $31 million from the Royal Wedding in 2011.
In the case of the topless photos, though, Kate and Prince William took legal action against the photographer and the French magazine that published the photos. According to Hollywoodlife.com, both are now facing criminal charges. Did the royals scare the tabloids away?
After Kate came out from the hospital, mothers around the world took to Twitter and Facebook to praise her for showing her ‘mummy tummy’ or “what a real woman’s body looks like after she gives birth.” That same day OK! Magazine in the UK faced criticism for a Kate Middleton cover they released dated July 30th. The cover highlighted Kate’s “post-baby weight loss regime” and an “exclusive [interview with] Kate’s trainer” who allegedly told OK! “’She’s super-fit. Her stomach will shrink straight back.’”
There was an immediate backlash on Twitter and on OK’s Facebook page for their cover, led by tweets like this one from TV and radio presenter Katy Hill:
— Katy Hill (@KatyHillTV) July 23, 2013
The negative response seemed to force OK! to apologize and they issued this statement to some outlets:
"Kate is one of the great beauties of our age and OK! readers love her. Like the rest of the world, we were very moved by her radiance as she and William introduced the Prince of Cambridge to the world. We would not dream of being critical of her appearance. If that was misunderstood on our cover it was not intended."
When contacted to confirm the statement to OutFront, a spokesperson for OK! would not make any further comments but did point out that they have released a new royal baby souvenir issue dated August 6th.
Did Kate tame Britain's notoriously harsh pop press, either through the lawsuit - or simply, her charm?
"Kate probably will not be immune to weight loss covers or other coverage," says Bonnie Fuller, editor-in-chief of HollywoodLife.com and former editor of several women's magazines. "She's a huge worldwide celebrity and is very much under the microscope. However, I believe most of her coverage will be extremely positive and sympathetic.”
Either way, it's highly likely that OK! apologized to save face with readers. Every cover counts as tabloid magazines struggle to sell issues. According to the Steven Cohn, editor-in-chief of min, tabloid sales have been "...going down in part because you have other vehicles like digital." Take US Weekly. Its reportedly best-selling issue of 2012 featured Kim Kardashian with this cover line: "Kim dares to bare: You call this fat?"
As it relates to Kate Middleton, Susan Kelley, founder of the blog What Kate Wore, tells us Kate “isn’t safe from [media] scrutiny.” “There is an enormous distinction with Kate," she says, "in terms of media exposure: just about every appearance is one that is managed. She isn't someone constantly out and about and presenting herself to the media, like a Kim Kardashian. Opportunities for the media to see Kate are isolated instances… Her style has essentially been to avoid the media…Therefore the odds are greatly diminished of something untoward happening.”
The fact that Kate Middleton’s official title isn’t “reality star” may help her avoid the kind of unfortunate post pregnancy press that Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson were subject to recently. Krista Smith, West Coast Editor for Vanity Fair tells OutFront that Kate will most likely not face the same kind of negative media attention because “…Those are reality stars and she's a Princess. Kate's super fit and I'm sure she'll get back into shape very soon."
Following Princess Diana’s death, the British press was heavily criticized for previous tabloid coverage surrounding her alleged affairs and battle with bulimia while she was married to Prince Charles. Such posthumous critiques could also be setting a standard for what not to publish when it comes to the Duchess of Cambridge. “Having worked with four decades of The Royal family and watched intrusion into their private lives, we feel as do the majority of the British public that enough is enough," Ian Pelham-Turner an award-winning photographer who photographed baby Prince William and Helena Chard who recently photographed the royal wedding tell OutFront.
Will celebrity moms get better treatment in general from the press following the OK!/Kate controversy?
CNN Royal Contributor Victoria Arbiter remains hopeful and explains to OutFront, “Magazines on both sides of the Atlantic can put unfair expectations on celebrities who have just given birth but following the heavy backlash against OK!, editors will definitely be approaching stories differently and it's about time. There was something about seeing Kate share her new baby with the world's press only to have weight loss headlines run the next day that seemed inherently wrong. Perhaps this is a post baby honeymoon period but may it be more than that. Change has been a long time in coming and we owe a debt of gratitude to the Duchess for inciting it.”
Follow Jessica Reinis on Twitter: @JessicaReinis