Catherine, Princess of Wales (Princess Kate), ignited a firestorm with Sunday’s release of a digitally altered family photo on “Mother’s Day” in the United Kingdom.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” tweeted the princess.

By Monday Catherine, who has been recovering from January abdominal surgery, released an apology, noting: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day.”

Tabloid and social media obsession over Princess Catherine’s health has been growing, birthing a wide range of wild and downright kooky conspiracy theories. Sunday’s photo, presumably designed to quell the speculation, has only seemed to fan the flames of intrigue and drama.

Adding to the story, of course, is King Charles’ cancer diagnosis and his absence from the public spotlight. Two Royal health scares after seventy uninterrupted years of Queen Elizabeth rule are bound to create some unevenness and questions.

Preoccupation with the Royals isn’t a new phenomenon. But it does beg the question:

Why the fascination – and why so much scrutiny and controversy over a family photograph?

Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, has previously suggested Americans have an infatuation with the monarchy.

“Let’s admit it, we are [obsessed], and we don’t want to be,” Mohler recently said. “And many Americans try not to be. And we’ll say dismissive comments about the monarchy and make snide sarcastic comments about the hereditary monarchy and make very clear we want nothing of it until we get a chance to watch it. And then we watch it by the millions.”

To explain it, Dr. Mohler turns to the Scriptures, and specifically Israel’s desire for a king, as described in the first book of Samuel.

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations’” (1 Sam. 8:4).

“So evidently this is a very old pattern,” suggested Dr. Mohler. “It tells us something about fallen humanity. It tells us also something about order. And this is a central conservative thesis. It is a central conservative principle. And that is that in any human society there will be hierarchy. The question is, what hierarchy is to be resisted and what hierarchy is to be respected?”

Dr. Mohler isn’t suggesting Americans necessarily want a monarchy, even though there is ample evidence of a growing dependence on the state to provide for basic needs. But he’s acknowledging that God has made clear man’s brokenness had made many eager to be led rather than to lead.

Obsession over the Catherine photograph, and royal watching overall, also points to the hunger of so many for a happy and loving family. As a disaffected British friend recently told me, “The Royals are British public relations, and they represent the lifestyle and family so many want but will never have. They are fantasy come to life.”

It remains to be seen what is unfolding behind the scenes at Windsor, Buckingham, or Kensington, but rather than promote fantastical theories and conspiracies, we can do no better than to pray for the family.

Yet, as Christians, we know the only “King” worthy of our devotion and affection is King Jesus – a Savior whose true power and majesty makes any worldly monarchy far less powerful than a small-town PTA.


Image credit: Prince and Princess of Wales’ Instagram