Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Royal Phone Prank

I am sure everyone has now heard of the Royal telephone prank played on Prince William and his pregnant wife, Kate, by a couple of Australian disc jockeys. To summarize the tragic incident for those who somehow missed the news, a couple of disc jockeys in Sydney, Australia, called King Edward VII hospital in London where Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness, and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Philip. The victim of the hoax, nurse Jacinta Saldanha, believing the callers to be the Queen and her husband revealed private information regarding Kate's condition. Shortly after this prank the nurse committed suicide, turning the supposedly harmless prank into a fatal tragedy.

Radio DJ's play pranks on or for their listeners every day all over the world, with no harmful effects. Since this incident the two Australian DJ's have been attacked and ridiculed and blamed for this poor nurse's death. The blame on this hoax cannot be placed on any one person. As I said, these pranks take place all over the world. Japan probably conducts the most bizarre and vicious of any of these pranks, with little or no repercussions, as far as we know. When these calls are made, the pranksters know nothing of the state of both the mental and physical health of the victims. It is like playing Russian roulette and hoping the victim is not suicidal or has a severe heart condition, but the radio public demands such stunts. It was only a matter of time before a tragedy happened.

There  is one thing different about this sad situation and I have have a burning question to ask. Would this hoax have gone unnoticed if the subjects of the prank were not members of the Royal Family? Would the same thing have happened if the subjects were lesser celebrities or even normal everyday people? First of all because royalty is the privileged class, attention is naturally directed to them and special treatment is not only expected but required, therefore they are not immune to such jokes, satire and pranks. The nurse in this case, if the patient was an ordinary person, would not have divulged any information to a caller. But because members of the monarchy have to be treated differently, the nurse basically had no choice. She had no idea she was not talking to the Queen and Prince Philip. I do not think for a minute that the administrators of King Edward VII hospital went easy on this nurse. If the patient had been a commoner she would have gotten a reprimand, but because the patient was royalty, I am sure they were extremely harsh on her. Being a nurse she was exposed to all sorts of stressful situations and was, before this incident, able to handle her job in a professional manner. We will never know what was going on in this woman's life and will never know why she took her own life.

Instead of trying to place blame of the DJ's or anyone else, we should all reflect on why this happened. Has our society become too cruel and insensitive? Are our lives so dull, boring and meaningless that we have are entertained by the misfortunes of others? And why, at this time in history, do we need to have a class of privileged people, royalty or otherwise, to hold in the highest esteem and treat as our betters.



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