Australian radio show 2Day FM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian successfully prank called Kate Middleton‘s hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, ending in the suicide of one of the nurses that took the call, Jacintha Saldanha, just days later.
Middleton was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital for a severe case of morning sickness and radio hosts Greig and Christian seized the opportunity to have fun and play a joke on the Duchess of Cambridge. They got through and Saldanha was duped into patching them through to another nurse who gave them private details about Middleton’s health. The amount of ease the impersonators got the information with concerned many as a security breach.
The duo later apologized for the hoax:
“We were very surprised that our call was put through. We thought we’d be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents,” they said in a joint statement with the station. “We’re very sorry if we’ve caused any issues and we’re glad to hear that Kate is doing well.”
When Saldanha was found dead a few days after the prank, with suicide as the reported cause of death, the radio hosts faced a whirlwind of criticism. Here’s the top 10 facts you need to know about Mel Greig and Michael Christian.
1. Mel Greig and Michael Christian are DJ’s for Australian Radio Station 2Day FM
2Day FM is a radio station broadcasted from Sydney, New South Wales on 104.1. The station, owned by Southern Cross Austereo, is dubbed as Sydney’s hit music station and Mel Greig and Michael Christian host a night show called the Hot30 Countdown where they are known for their pranks.
2. They Will Not Return to the Show Until Further Notice
Greig and Christian did not return to their show the next day when news broke that Saldanha committed suicide. Southern Cross Austero issued a statement on the 2Day FM website about the tragedy.
“Southern Cross Austereo are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII’s Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.”
“Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances. SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.”
3. The DJs Deleted Their Twitter Accounts
The Twitterverse became overwhelmed with hate tweets directed at the DJs since the suicide, saying the two should be ashamed of themselves and should be fired, among other things.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian should be put in prison for what they have done!
— Kelly Osbourne (@MissKellyO) December 7, 2012
Absolutely appaled at the death of #JacinthaSaldanha. Michael Christian and Mel Greig hang your heads in shame!
— Martin Duncan (@martinjduncan) December 7, 2012
Pls RT Dear @2dayfmsydney, u need to sack Mel Greig, Michael Christian & their producers. Ill conceived prank has lead to suicide of Nurse.
— Andy Moore (@andygoosemoore) December 8, 2012
They have since deleted their Twitter accounts, but the hateful tweets continue to pour in.
4. Christian Boasted About the Prank Before the Suicide
5. They Impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles with Awful English Accents
Greig even said on the show that accents were awful.
“You know what, they were the worst accents ever and when we made that phone call we were sure at least 100 people before us would have tried the same thing.
6. Greig and Christian Were Ordered Not to Speak to the Media
Don’t bother trying to get a word from the DJs. They were ordered by the radio station to not comment on the death of the nurse.
7. Not Everyone is Blaming the DJs
Are Greig and Christian to blame for the death of Saldanha? When most of the world are pointing their fingers at the pranksters, some are backing up the radio show hosts. Bonnie Fuller of HollywoodLife.com writes that while the prank was “tasteless, tacky and juvenile,” she doesn’t think the DJs are to blame for the suicide.
DJs Mel and Michael could NEVER in a million years have foreseen that their silly behavior could prompt a woman at the hospital to allegedly commit suicide.
8. Mel Greig was a Former Contestant on ‘The Amazing Race Australia’
Mel Greig is most known for hosting “Hot30 Countdown” on 2Day FM, but before that she was also a former contestant on “The Amazing Race Australia.”
9. She Ran Away from Home When She was 15
In an interview last year, Greig admitted that her home life was rough and she ran away when she was 15.
I ran away from home. It was just a bit tough at home. I decided to leave. When you leave, you have to leave everything behind and cut it off.
10. This Isn’t the First Time the Station Played a Prank-Gone-Wrong
The Royal Prank scandal isn’t the first time 2Day FM got themselves into trouble. DJ Kyle Sandilands sparked public backlash when a 14-year-old girl was forced to admit she was raped during an on-air lie detector stunt on “The Kyle and Jackie O Show.”