THE situation surrounding the Princess of Wales is out of control and deplorable.

It would be appalling if a member of staff at the London Clinic, where she spent 13 days in January undergoing abdominal surgery, had attempted to access her medical notes, either out of personal curiosity or in the hope of selling the information.

Unlike in previous decades, no newspaper in the UK today would touch such information, although foreign publishers might and the unregulated, and unregulatable, world of social media would reward any tweeter or TikToker who divulged such details with billions of hits.

Social media is awash with crackpot conspiracy theories about the use of body doubles, Kate’s conversion to Islam or William having murdered her. It is utter madness, but it is shocking that so many people seem caught up in this insanity, and a reminder of how dangerous untrammelled social media can be. An alarming number of people only get their news from these untruthful sources and whether it is about royalty or politics, that is worrying.

There is a thought that this whirl of speculation has been amplified by the palace. The release of a bodged picture has not helped – if you can’t trust everything the palace puts out, some people might be encouraged to believe other untruths.

More pertinently, the palace refused to explain the nature of Kate’s condition, citing privacy. Anyone who is off work for any length of time has to submit a sick note to their employer, which should be treated confidentially, but no one these days can expect absolute privacy.

We know the king has cancer, and, with everyone’s best wishes, he has been allowed to get on with his treatment. By not being more open about the princess, the palace has created a vacuum which is now sucking in all sorts of stupidity and perhaps even illegal behaviour. It must all be very distressing for Kate who needs to concentrate on recovering in time for Easter, when her first public reappearance will expose all this nonsense for what it is.