When a Prank Goes Too Far: Predicting A New Royal Heir

10 Dec

Last Monday it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their first child after Kate was admitted to the hospital for acute morning sickness. It was a week that should have been filled with joy and excitement for the couple and public but instead ended in sorrow and tragedy.

Early the next day two DJs from Australia’s 2Day FM called the hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles. The pair (Mel Greig and Michael Christian) thought their prank call would be unsuccessful due to their terrible accents but to their surprise, they weren’t caught. During the phone call (among other offensives) they managed to find out details about Kate’s condition. After the show aired, the public back lash began. The hospital apologized for incidence and condemned the DJs. It was unclear whether the law had been broken or not but as the pair had apologized. The hospital said they were willing to take that into consideration when they finally decided on what action to take. [1] On Thursday, the Duchess was well enough to go home.

Just 24 hours later the world would learn of the death of one of the nurses that answered the call. Jacintha Saldanha was found unconscious on a street not far from the hospital and was pronounced dead at the scene police arrived. It was confirmed that she committed suicide from the humiliation of the phone call. This occurred even though the hospital had said they supported both nurses and the Royal family had stated that they made no complaint over the incident. [2] The DJs were suspended and have gone into hiding after receiving threatening messages.

Australian Police are cooperating with the Metropolitan Police, though they haven’t expressed that they need to take things any further than establishing that they may need to speak with the DJs.  [3] An inquest will now be opened to see if any laws have been broken or whether the pair have just broken the code set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (or ACMA) who could ultimately take away the stations licence). [4] Jacintha Saldanha leaves behind her husband and two children.


Essential References:

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/dec/05/royal-baby-hoax-call-hospital

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/dec/07/nurse-jacintha-saldanha-death-reaction

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/kate-middleton/9732609/Duchess-hoax-call-radio-hosts-fragile-as-Metropolitan-Police-make-contact.html

[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/dec/09/australian-stations-royal-prank

62 Responses to “When a Prank Goes Too Far: Predicting A New Royal Heir”

  1. midnightcloak4 December 10, 2012 at 10:11 AM #

    From what I’ve read about the prank itself, it seemed like it was committed with lighthearted intentions, and it just escalated from there. I can honestly say that I’m shocked about the nurse’s suicide-related death and the scapegoating and vilification of the DJ’s by the hospital, the media, and some of the public. I don’t think that the DJ’s should be blamed from the nurse’s death nor should the nurse faulted for taking her own life in the time following the airing of the prank. In this situation, I don’t think there was malicious intent or intentional hurt. It’s a case where a number of people, not matter the public status of those involved, made bad decisions. The DJ’s should have come clean when the nurse started diverging confidential medical information, which can carry heavy fines, jail time, and possible felony charges if this were to have occurred in the States. I’m unsure what fines and punishments it holds in the UK. Also, the prank wasn’t live, so in the event that the DJ’s didn’t come clean during the recording or were unable to contact the hospital administrator or staff thereafter, the DJ’s radio station/network had the choice to not air the recording- not to open Pandora’s Box of troubles from an ethical and legal standpoint. The hospital made bad decisions when it dropped the ball (if the ball hadn’t already been dropped) by divulging confidential information over-the-phone which is unethical and security breach. No matter the excitement of having a famous patient, security and its checks should not have been lax. I know from experience that 9 times out of 10 it’s like pulling teeth when calling to check on status of family member who are recently admitted, because if they can’t see you or your identification, you don’t exist unless you can give identifying information about yourself (if it on-file) or the patient. Even then, they still would have withheld information. But looking at from the perspective of the status of the patient, the hospital should have had some hypervigilance in preparation that they would be receiving a high-volume of inquiries and possible pranks or impersonation since the pregnancy and hospitalization broke. Also, while I can empathize with the nurse’s likely embarrassment or humiliation that she was tricked in a highly publicized manner and she was more than likely admonished in some form by her employer, even though the hospital is saying otherwise, I don’t think this made her commit suicide. I think it may have contributed to her ideation and act. She may have other pressures and/or on-going medical and mental health issues that she was struggling with and succumbed.

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM #

      Hi MC4,

      Nice to see u. This is such a tragic story but the Nurse definitely had some other stuff going on that contributed to her decision to take her own life. It would be interesting to know what transpired with her leading up to the prank. For example if she worked a lot of overtime, was she overworked etc… I do agree with u the DJ’s should have practiced self-control and stopped the prank once they realized they were taken seriously. What did they hope to gain for pulling off this prank? A job as investigative reporters or something? How stupid!

      • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

        Hello midnightcloak4!

        I totally agree that it was not one person’s fault or one bad move that set the whole thing off. From what I’ve read I think the faults go like this.

        On the hospital’s side.
        The timing of the call and the receptionist being away from the desk for a moment or not at work at that moment, plus the nurses not being trained or aware of security protocal when taking in calls from important people.

        It was roughly 5:45am UK time when the call was made. I don’t know if there’s a receptionist at that time of the morning but I did read somewhere there was and they had probably had to use the bathroom or was on a break. They would of known the proper protocal and would of picked up on it being fake. The nurses probably thought it was ok to pick up the phone at that time of day when everything is still quiet. I don’t think they would of known the procedures either and unfortunately believed it.

        That being said, they should of been trained for cases like this and we do have the Hippocratic Oath (it’s like pulling teeth over here too). So somewhere down the line the hospital/nurses did do something wrong. I do think there was a reprimand to both nurses (even though this was denied) but I also think that the hospital would stand behind them as it was a prank and they were the victims despite all their failings. It wouldn’t surprise me if there had been a complaint from the palace despite it being denied too. Maybe not from Wills and Kate but possibly Prince Charles or the Queen. However, I could see some aide (a jobsworth type of person) making the complaint and not an actual member of the royal family.

        Add in the public humiliation to someone who is already struggling and sadly it became too much for her to deal with.

        On the radio station’s side.
        The two DJs are young. They had only had their own show for two weeks so they were probably still in the over enthusiatic stage of trying to impress people.

        The lawyers/station managers despite saying they hadn’t broken the law (they still may have) should of also checked the regulation codes. Its very likely that they broke a rule there (I think its the one which states the person who was on the receiving end has to give their permission for it to air).

        Also, I think basic morals should have come into play. Pranking a pizza place nothing compared to a hospital. Personally myself I would of said no due to it being about someone’s health and they deserve that privacy.

        So basically two inexperianced people who were allowed to do something that the station managers and lawyers should of known better to not air.

        Sorry for the long length of this, lol!

        • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

          Applause Ozzie,

          Great analysis.


          • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM #


            I got the time wrong. It was 5:30am, not 5:45am.

  2. parisienne December 10, 2012 at 2:08 PM #


    Great Article. I don’t think the prank contributed to her death either. She may have had other ongoing issues or may have been in some trouble with her job and she thought she might be fired. Who knows?

    IA with MC that had this happened in the States, the nurse broke laws (HIPPA) and could have ended up in prison. The DJ;s should have stopped the prank once she started giving out personal information.

    There should have been some type of protocol in place for phone calls from the Royal Family. Phone calls from family and friends should have been routed directly to her room (during visiting hours) or not taken at all.

    According to all the articles I’ve read, William was with Catherine the entire time and he could have taken any phone calls. Its such a senseless death for such a harmless prank.

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 10:56 AM #

      Hahaha! See I should have read your statement first before commenting. I pretty much said the same thing.

      • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

        Thanks Paris!

        My long ramble above is basically the same as what you said! So you don’t need to read it if you don’t want too, lol!

  3. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 12:13 AM #

    Hi All!

    Dr. Drew is talking about the prank and suicide on his show. He mentioned something that I don’t think anyone (I know I didn’t) think about. The nurse was of a different culture and she may have killed herself because she found it dishonorable.

    Also they are saying on the show that she was staying in a dorm provided by the hospital and that her work conditions were stressful. I’m sure they were. Many members of my family work in the medical profession and I know that they work many hours and do not make the correct decisions.

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM #

      Ah! See her work conditions were stressful. I wonder if they have support groups or outreach programs to help Nurses. I know in America they are really overworked. I too have a friend who’s a Nurse and treats patients with cancer and she is constantly working and stressed. Let me try and find the Dr. Drew show. I will be right back.

    • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

      She’s originally from India. Unfortunately I don’t know if their culture would find it dishonourable. I think I also read somewhere she was a devout Chatholic. Not being Catholic myself, I don’t know whether that would be frowned upon also. But from what I can remember from school, neither is. I just can’t remember the specifics, lol!

      • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

        I had a family member who was Catholic and unless she felt that God was going to smite her I don’t think nothing would be said.

        • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

          Ah, thanks! 🙂

        • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

          The more u describe the Nurse I wonder if she suffered from “Over-Achiever Syndrome?” Given so much was riding on her being the main bread winner, then getting humiliated in such a public way. People with this condition are really hard on themselves so to have her mistake be so public. Poor thing! The more I think about it the more sad I get.

          • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

            ITA. Its sad and senseless.

          • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

            I definately think that was a big part OB.

            I can’t watch the video of the call because just reading the transcript made me sad. It was sad just writing it! But I think it needs to be discussed no matter how sad it is because this could be a law/rule changer and brings up media accountability.

            • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

            • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

              Its more prevalent in women. 1 in 6 women have it.

  4. Open Book December 11, 2012 at 3:19 PM #

    I could not find the Dr. Drew episode but I did find this.

  5. Open Book December 11, 2012 at 3:28 PM #

    Here’s the actual Prank call.

  6. Comic Relief December 11, 2012 at 4:34 PM #

    I can’t believe how little security follows the royal family.

    • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM #

      The thing that I don’t get is where was the security to place calls to and from the Royal Family? I’m still reading the book on Wills and Kate. Wills ALWAYS has security around him at all times.

      • Comic Relief December 11, 2012 at 5:56 PM #

        “I hear Will and Kate at a pub on Abbey Road. I’m going to call them up and play a prank.”
        Ring, Ring, Ring.
        “Hi, can I speak to Will or Kate?”
        “Is that you Will, how’s it hangin?”

        • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM #

          LOL! I can’t believe the DJ’s got put through just by saying “I want to talk to Kate.”

        • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

          Hahaha! That’s hilarious.

  7. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM #


    Thanks for finding the call. I’ve been wanting to hear it just to see what was said. Its sad that her death happened. I can’t believe that she (the nurse) didn’t pick up on the fact that “charles” accent changed halfway through.

    That’s so sad.

  8. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM #

    This is all I can find from Dr. Drew at the moment.


  9. Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM #

    Hello Everyone!

  10. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

    Hi All!

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

      Hi Paris!

      I can’t believe the security for Kate was so miss-managed. Especially, while she’s in the hospital? Come on!

  11. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:13 PM #

    IA! That would never happen here, in the States, they would have been hung up on.

  12. ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 7:19 PM #

    Hello everyone! 🙂

    This one is going to be hard for me to discuss because I can see the reasons on both sides (the nurses and the DJs), so expect lot’s of “however….”!

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      Great article BTW.

      • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

        Thanks OB! 🙂

  13. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

    me too Ozzie!

  14. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

    The DJ’s should have stopped when they realized she gave them personal information. They did realize it because IIRC, the female DJ says “She’s giving us personal information.”

    Now granted, the information she gave them wasn’t terribly personal. More about her sleeping and what not. Now if she had said “The Princess has a mass that’s draining fluid and the Dr. is suctioning 25 cc’s out of her as we speak.” Then I’d have a problem.

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

      True, the DJ’s should have said hold up. This is a prank etc… I’m going to have to pull an Ozzie and say too. They were probably shocked this info was so easy to attain. I do agree with MC4 the lack of security by the hospital is crazy. They just give out personal information over the phone without any photo identification? The more u analyze this the crazier it sounds on the part of the hospital and the security for the Royal family.

      • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

        There is fault on everyone’s part but I don’t think anyone should lose their jobs or life over it.

        • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

          True! The suicide of the Nurse takes it to a different level of horror. I read somewhere the Nurse left a note for her family before she committed suicide. Do u know if she killed herself due to this prank?

          • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:01 PM #

            I don’t. I know that her body was found in the street. She was going/coming from somewhere. Maybe she OD’d on pills…..IDK

            • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

              How horrible. Her body was found in the street? IDK this looks pretty impulsive regardless of the note she left. Unless she had a history of trying to off herself I’m wondering if the hospital isn’t owning up to something.

              • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

                IA. Because people that off themselves don’t normally do it in public. So what I’m thinking is she took some pills that triggered her to have a heart attack or something like that because normally people hide themselves.

                • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

                  I wonder if the hospital came down really hard on her and aren’t admitting it like Ozzie said.

                  • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

                    Maybe they did. I heard she was the only one in her family that had a job. So maybe she felt extra pressure.

                    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

                      See she sounds like she may have been an over achiever. A lot of over achievers in college resort to suicide if they get a B on a test. Cornell has a huge suicide rate.

                      Here’s an article on Cornell suicides.


                    • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

                      I hadn’t heard that Paris. It’s going to be even harder on the family if that’s the case. Not only do you lose your wife/mother and have to deal with that but you now have no income.

                      I did just read that she left a suicide note but it was only in the title not the article. I know they wouldn’t reveal details but usually its confirmed if there is one.

  15. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

    I feel bad for her family though because every time they see the Royal Family or the baby they will know that in a roundabout way the RF/DJ’s caused her death.

  16. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

    I’m sure though that there is more to the story than we are hearing. One does not kill themselves just because of a breach of security. That was her tipping point, I think other factors had to play into it.

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:02 PM #

      That’s exactly what I believe as well. Some other factors had to be in play for her to want to check out. Its really an issue of pressure here. How much pressure people can take without sleep etc…

      • parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

        The thing is on the tape she didn’t sound tired to me. She actually sounded like a nice person.

        • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

          I know her voice sounded kinda perky and upbeat.

          • MidnightCloak4 December 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM #

            Hi everyone, and thanks again to Ozzie for the article.

            Coming from a social services background, and from my own experiences with family and friends working in the the medical profession and field, it’s pretty darn trying for yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, but also those around you. My mom’s an RN, and has been working in the profession for over 25 years. She’s been through the gambit of wonky shifts that were sometimes 12-16 hours long if their was understaffing (usually the case), mistreatment by patients and superiors, strikes, etc.. For a time, my siblings and I would only really see her just before school in the morning when she coming in, and a couple of hours in the evening before she went to work.

            Re: Exactly OB. The nurse sounded so happy, animated, and almost gracious that she was talking to the Queen and King- like this really made her day. But also, the more articles and information revealed about this tragedy and the hospital going on the attack against the station and the DJ’s, the conspiracy theorist in me is thinking that the hospital really came down on this women with sanctions, possibly suspending, demoting, or starting the process of firing her. Even more so than the nurse, the hospital was humiliated and it’s reputation tarnished to some extent. No one is going to want to go to a hospital, especially someone high-profile, that lax in its security and confidentiality of it’s patients. If they were so inclined, the Royals could sue the hospital, further tarnishing the hospital, there’s just no one, I think, the hospital was fully behind the nurse was the prank was aired and received by the public.

            • Open Book December 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM #

              Ah! Sorry we missed u MC4. I like reading your take on things. Also, God bless u and your family who give of themselves to help others. I truly mean that!

              ITA with your theory about the hospital reprimanding the Nurse. I don’t think the hospital was at all supportive as much as they are “now” claiming they were, given the turn of events. I imagine the Nurse worked really hard to get where she was knowing how many people she had depending on her. The public humiliation, job and everything she worked for now in jeopardy, was more than what she could stand. Gosh, the more u think about it. I’m sure, given how upbeat she was on the phone. That she never thought that morning she would resort to ending her life over a phone call. How tragic.

  17. Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

    I’m back!

  18. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    I was wondering where everyone went. I was over here talking to myself. 🙂

    • Open Book December 11, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

      Sorry sweetie. My computer crashed I had too many windows open. LOL!!

  19. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

    Its cool!

  20. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM #


    The Royal Family has said that they hold no one at fault.

    • ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 9:00 PM #

      Yes, I can see them not holding anyone at fault which is why I added the bit about an overzealous royal employee. Many times I have heard people say they were instructed on protocals before meeting royalty but when they do actually meet them, they’re down to earth.

  21. Open Book December 11, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

    Ozzie ITA this incident has got to change some laws. Hospitals should not give out personal info on “anyone” over the phone. ITA with MC4 about photo identification before giving out personal info at hospital etc..

    This topic will not be easy to forget for years to come.

    Goodnight Everyone!

  22. parisienne December 11, 2012 at 9:00 PM #


    I’m leaving for the evening. Ozzie, great article. 🙂

  23. ozzie20 December 11, 2012 at 9:55 PM #

    Thanks for being here!

    I’ll leave a couple more things that are important and a general thought on the outcry before I go.

    1) This hospital should of known better and trained everyone on protocals as this hospital is one that the royal family use quite regularly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Edward_VII%27s_Hospital_Sister_Agnes

    2) This isn’t the first time this radio station has done something controversial. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/07/2dayfm-australia-shock-jock-station

    As everyone calms down, they’ll realise how many things went wrong. I think the backlash is for the radio station not the actual DJs but maybe it hasn’t been realised yet. Don’t get me wrong, the DJs are idiots and lack a moral compass as they did not stop to think about what they were doing was really wrong. That when it comes to people’s health they deserve privacy. The station managers and lawyers are more to blame as they should of realised that. People like to put a face to a crime. Its easier to direct the blame to a person rather than a building or a large group of people. Unfortunately at the moment, the DJs are the faces.

    Anyway, that’s all I can think of right now so I’ll bid everyone good night! 🙂

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