The revelation that Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, has cancer prompted a swift backlash over a torrent of lurid social media speculation around her health, including by those positing she was secretly dead. But the somber news has not stopped the seemingly endless churn of conspiracy theories.

The 42-year-old princess, who is still popularly known by her maiden name Kate Middleton, received an outpouring of global sympathy after her video message on Friday revealed she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy, seeking to put an end to a maelstrom of unfounded claims circulated amid her monthslong absence from public life.

The manipulation of a royal photograph the palace released to the media, as well as the British monarchy's culture of secrecy, had fueled much of the online speculation.