'Royally tasteless': world's press condemns hospital prank call

'Royally tasteless': world's press condemns hospital prank call

"Prince Charles" is calling out for his "mummy", people are yapping in the background like hungry corgis, and the "Queen" says she needs a lift to the hospital.

But the British press are not laughing at Australian radio hosts Michael Christian and Mel Greig's impression of the royals in a prank call to London's King Edward VII Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge is being treated for severe morning sickness.

The Daily Mail interviewed the Queen's former press secretary Dickie Arbiter, who said it was a "shocking breach of security".

"'The Royal family have been clients of the King Edward VII Hospital for many, many years and it simply beggars belief that a member of the public could call up and obtain details of the Duchess's medical condition in this way'," Mr Arbiter said.

Sorry ... Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

Sorry ... Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

Photo: Twitter

"'Where on earth were the checks and balances? The hospital will be livid at what has happened and I am sure the palace will be demanding answers. There will be fireworks over this, for sure'."

The Daily Mail described the prank call as the second breach of Catherine's privacy since marrying Prince William, after photographs of her sunbathing topless were published in September.

The report also pointed to 2Day FM being reprimanded after a young girl underwent an on-air lie detector test on the Kyle and Jackie O Show in 2009 and was pushed by her mother to say she had been raped.

London's Telegraph said the prank would stir up concerns about press ethics.

"The call will re-open the debate on the Leveson Report, which proposes state regulation of the British press but makes no attempt to address the issue of the unregulated internet or media based abroad," the report said.

"Ironically, Lord Justice Leveson is currently in Australia on a speaking tour.

"The call appears to have broken Australia's own broadcasting regulations, which stipulate that live programs must not treat participants in a 'highly demeaning or highly exploitative manner'.

"It defines 'exploitative' as 'clearly appearing to purposefully debase or abuse the participant for the enjoyment of others, and lacking moral, artistic or other values'."

The hospital will be livid at what has happened and I am sure the palace will be demanding answers. There will be fireworks over this.

The Telegraph's Tom Chivers opined it was a "bit weird and wrong" to phone a hospital and pretend to be a sick person's family.

He also echoed sentiments about the effectiveness of the Leveson Report.

"Quite what the public interest is in knowing that the Duchess had a good night's sleep is, I don't know," Chivers wrote.

"But it doesn't matter, now: the information is global, spread via the internet, and on this huge, troublesome, obvious subject, the Leveson report is bizarrely silent."

The Guardian also reported on the prank but, like most British outlets, did not reveal the details given by the nurse about the duchess's condition.

The prank call has also caught the attention of the US press.

CNN was not particularly impressed by the presenters' royal impersonations.

"The conversation was conducted in poorly done English accents and with frequent references to "Charles" walking the queen's corgis, her much-loved dogs, but it did not appear to raise alarm bells with hospital staff," it reported.


E! Online described it as a "royally tasteless joke".

Fairfax Media

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