The disappearance of Madeleine McCann is considered to be one of the most heavily reported missing person cases in modern history. Even those who were young at the time of this devastating event remember the outpour of emotion and intrigue that it evoked worldwide. Since then, there has been a number of conspiracies and theories that have been proposed, yet the truth of the case and Madeleine’s whereabouts remain unknown. We’ll delve into the details of this disappearance that shook the world back in 2007, consider how old Madeleine McCann would be now and how developments are still being made regarding this case, 14 years on.
3-year old Madeleine McCann was on holiday with her parents, Gerry and Kate, her two-year old twin siblings and their family friends at a resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal when the disappearance occurred on May 3rd 2007. Madeleine and her siblings had been left asleep in their parent’s ground floor apartment, while they were dining with their friends at the resort’s tapas restaurant, about 55 metres away. The parents checked on the children around every half an hour until Kate discovered that Madeleine was missing at 10 o’clock that evening.
After the Portuguese gendarmerie failed to make headway in the search for Madeleine, former Prime Minister David Cameron set up the case as a Met Police inquiry, named Operation Grange in 2011. Since then, it’s reported that nearly £11m has been put towards the search for Madeleine, and it is still considered to be an open case to this day.
How old would Madeleine be today?
On the 12th May 2021, Kate and Gerry McCann marked Madeleine’s 18th birthday. The pair shared a statement expressing their ongoing hope that they will one day be reunited with their daughter: “We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again”. They thanked the police for their perseverance with the search, as they say, they still need to know what happened to her, “no matter what”. The above image was created using pre-existing photos back in 2012 by the Metropolitan Police to give an idea of how Madeleine would have looked aged 9, and give an indication of how she may also look today.
In the media
In 2019, Netflix released a documentary series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, which looks at the case in detail, and what it was like to experience the story of Madeleine in real-time. It examines the press’s treatment of the case, the way a devastating disappearance was sensationalised and made a worldwide phenomenon. The director, Chris Smith’s goal was “to take the viewer on the journey that the public went on”, the media frenzy and scrutinization of Gerry and Kate, in particular. However, the McCann’s nor their friends agreed to take part in the series and have since stated that it does not reflect their views. So while informative, the docu-series gives more of an outsider perspective of the case.
As the generation who were around Madeleine’s age when she disappeared, it’s no surprise that the topic of her case would somehow reach TikTok. A user went viral when she claimed to be Madeleine, claiming that she was on holiday at the same time and the same resort. A further video says the creator and her family were actually stopped in an airport around the time Madeleine went missing and were asked to prove she wasn’t her as the likeness was so striking.
This sparked a trend amongst TikTokers and girls of Madeleine’s age to spot their own likeness to her and the reasons for how and why they too could be her. Understandably the backlash to these videos has been pretty substantial, with other users labelling them “sick” and distasteful.
The whereabouts of Madeleine McCann and what really happened to her all of those years ago remains one of the most asked and intriguing questions of our lifetime. Regardless of what you believe, what can’t be argued with is how this case shook the world and had an unchangeable impact on the way missing person cases were dealt with thereafter.