Katie Couric has waded into the biggest and most hush-hush of royal controversies of the moment, with extraordinary off-the-cuff remarks in which she publicly stated that Kate Middleton was “too thin”.
The unguarded comments were made during a Q&A session following a test taping of her new show, Katie, Couric's foray into the world of syndicated daytime talk shows, due to start broadcasting on Sept. 10.
According to a report on USA Today, "Couric spent several minutes answering questions from the audience. Someone asked who her "dream guest" would be. (Kate Middleton, Couric answered, though, "I think she's getting too thin.")
In a live blog made at the event by Whitney English Couric's remarks were quoted more extensively, but the context probably won't make them any easier reading at the palace:
"I think it would be really interesting to interview Kate Middleton because I think she has comported herself so well since she has been thrust in the limelight," Katie said. She threw in a bit of constructive criticism for the duchess, though: "I think she needs to eat more because she’s so thin.”
Kate was said to have lost 10lbs before her wedding to William, and the uncomfortable truth is that pictures of the duchess over the past few years do clearly indicate alarming weight loss.
Although Royal sources consistently reiterate off the record that there is no problem with Kate's dietary habits, there has been consistent speculation that Kate's slender frame may be at least part of the reason that the Royal newlyweds have yet to become pregnant, despite their openly expressed desire to start a family.
It is not clear why Couric - who was granted extensive and exclusive access to the Royals for her ABC News Special - should have made the extraordinary comments, which are bound to dismay senior royals and their closest advisors, not to mention ABC.
She must have known, after all, how explosive a subject speculation about Kate’s weight is at the palace, where any mention of eating disorders in royal circles immediately triggers deeply uncomfortable memories of Princess Diana, who told interviewer Martin Bashir, in a sensational 1995 BBC broadcast, that she suffered from bulimia and made herself sick after eating.
Bashir asked her what the royal family made of it.
"They thought it was a waste of food," the doe-eyed Diana replied, and a nation gasped at its television sets as the calcified and barely beating heart of the British monarchy was held up for all to see.
Kate is not bulimic, and indeed she had appeared to be gaining (a little) weight in the past few weeks.
Of course, cameras add pounds, but in the most recent pictures although Kate’s arms still seem very thin, there does seem to be a little more flesh on the bone than there was back in March.
Undoubtedly Couric’s remarks will be seen as deeply unhelpful at the palace, and, even if it is simply a case of failing to operate brain before engaing mouth rather than a deliberate attempt to whip up controversy and ratings, will be taken as poor payback for the extraordinary access she was granted to the Firm last year.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.