Four crucial commandments on how NOT to cover Prince William and Kate's royal India tour
How many of us know the real reason royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton in India?
The media coverage around Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has been quite consistent.
And by that we're talking about how the focus of their seven-day "royal" tour has mostly been about clothes, photo ops, Bollywood and pitting royalty against poverty. If you were to google 'Why are Kate and William in India?', the first result to pop up is 'The most stunning looks from Kate Middleton's tour of India'.
Now, we're not trying to be purists here. There's nothing wrong in discussing the royal couple's fashion choices (please do send me any articles you find on what Prince William wore through his trip, because I can't seem to find anything), or scrolling through slideshows of who they met or even the illustrious memes made out of their meeting with PM Modi.
But how many of us know the real reason they're in India? If we were to solely rely on the Indian and international media for our knowledge of the royal couple's visit, there are only a handful of things we would know: Who ate what, who wore what, who said what, whose skirt was flying, who had a Marilyn Monroe moment, who doesn't seem to have had a pedicure and who seems surprisingly fit for a mother of two (and by "who" we mostly mean Kate).
And so while we don't claim to have mastered the right way of covering an event of such global proportions, here's a quick and fairly simple guide on what not to do:
Thou shalt not care about an upskirt moment
"A gust of wind caught out the Duchess of Cambridge in her latest event in the royal tour of India," reads the strap of this Daily Express report. They headlined the piece: 'Her Royal Thigh-ness'. The entire 500-word piece is about Kate's upskirt moment, with many pictures graphing the skirt from her knee to her thigh.
Much like Buzzfeed India pointed out in this piece, nothing was said about William's "wardrobe malfunction", while a handful of publications went to press calling this Kate's "Marilyn Monroe" moment. Here's a thought? Maybe she just had a moment, and we should really not care?
Thou shalt not cash in on sexist tripe about Kate's post pregnancy weight
At the celebration of Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday in New Delhi, a fellow attendee asked Kate how she managed to look so thin inspite of having two kids. Her response was as clichéd as the question, "I am running after my kids!"
It's bad enough that one Professor Bulbul Dhar-James thought it was apt to ask the duchess this question, and it's worse that such questions are routinely asked to mothers in the limelite, but the real jewel in the crown (pun intended) is that People magazine spoke to the professor about his comments, calling him "bold" in their headline.
The piece however, reads like a brochure for a mutual admiration society: "The professor also told Kate she looked even better in person than in pictures, and Kate thanked her for the compliment. 'She was so gracious,' Dhar-James said."
Thou shalt not glamourise poverty
We tried saying the same thing to Coldplay earlier, but since that advice has fallen upon deaf ears, here it is again.
Did you know that Daily Mail has a "royal correspondent" in Mumbai covering the minute-by-minute itinerary of the royal couple? It was only expected then, that in their coverage, they have routinely pitted the royal couple against "slumdogs" "poor vulnerable children" and "poorest people on earth". Maybe they thought using adjectives like "heartbreaking" would make their case?
This article on how the royal couple visited children of a Mumbai slum is filled with references to their big home with so many guards, versus the cubicle-sized rooms in which many of the slum-dwellers live. However, if you go through the pictures, you can see the couple happily interacting with children, playing football and watching the hip-hop moves of some of the young boys, to Bollywood songs.
Another Daily Express article points out how some "innocent" children quizzed the couple on, "how they hear each other in such a big house?" The article further states, "When your own home is an 8ft by 8ft room which you share with eight members of your family, then it is an obvious line of inquiry to a royal couple living in not one but two sprawling mansions. Ten-year-old Saniya Puniya Chauhan’s life could not be further removed from the luxurious surroundings of Kensington Palace or the bucolic idyll of Anmer Hall, the Cambridges’ Norfolk bolthole."
Thou shalt not be obsessed with their every move
There is such a thing as being creepy paparazzi, and in the case of William and Kate's royal tour, we seem to have many examples. While the royal couple is here to strengthen diplomatic relations (you would know that if someone, anyone, thought to mention it in their reports and articles), we are also learning a lot about the two.
Take this ABP Live article for instance. It has 400-odd words on how Prince William tasted a dosa for the first time, but Kate didn't. However, they both realised the business capabilities of a dosa-making machine for the UK (to make pancakes). "When it flipped on to a plate automatically, Prince William broke off a crispy portion from the edge of the dosa to taste. He said it was delicious. Then he turned to Kate and asked her if she wanted a bite. But she was not so sure and waved it away," it reads.
We must admit, most of these points are in good humour, there is a comment to be made on the constant sexist scrutiny that Kate has to go through not just in India, but in her own country. Couple this with a stereotypical India fading into background scenery, and we have 'Kate and William in India - 2016'.
Now that's what Facebook albums are made of.
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