Everything We Know About Kate’s First Public Appearance Since Her Cancer Diagnosis

london, england june 15 catherine, princess of wales during trooping the colour on june 15, 2024 in london, england trooping the colour is a ceremonial parade celebrating the official birthday of the british monarch the event features over 1,400 soldiers and officers, accompanied by 200 horses more than 400 musicians from ten different bands and corps of drums march and perform in perfect harmony photo by samir husseinwireimage
Where in the World Is Kate Middleton?Samir Hussein - Getty Images

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We’re used to near-daily access to the British royal family. News outlets across the globe, including Bazaar, breathlessly cover the family members’ every move, from state banquets to charity events, international royal tours to local walkabouts. Countless photos of the family inundate our digital landscape, making these unreachable figures feel more like a thread intrinsic to the fabric of everyday life. This is what made the Princess of Wales’s abrupt disappearance from the public eye—due to a cancer diagnosis, as the world finally learned on March 22—feel so jarring.

After Princess Kate’s public appearance on December 25—joining King Charles III, husband Prince William, and their three kids for the annual walk to Sandringham Church for Christmas morning service—she seemed to vanish. Prior to that, she had been pulling off multiple engagements per week, including welcoming foreign dignitaries at Buckingham Palace, hosting her yearly holiday carol service at Westminster Abbey, and walking the red carpet for the famed Royal Variety Show. Then, silence.

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On January 17, Kensington Palace shared an uncharacteristically personal update on the princess’s health, revealing that she had been hospitalized for an abdominal surgery. While the palace has never specified what the surgery was for, it did note that her recuperation period meant we would likely not see Kate again until after Easter, which falls this year on March 31.

Unsurprisingly, public speculation over her whereabouts grew in the weeks that followed, with social media churning out new conspiracy theories to explain her absence seemingly every other day. Even an official portrait released by Kensington Palace failed to quell the controversy—and in fact served only to further fuel the rumor machine.

But Kate seems to have expected that reaction. “The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate,” the palace’s initial statement read. “She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.”

Over two months later, Kensington Palace finally released a video statement by Kate. In it, she explained she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy after doctors had found cancer during her abdominal surgery, and asked for time, space, and privacy for her family to deal with the health crisis.

Ahead, we break down all the legitimate information we have so far about Kate’s health situation—from her recovery to her expected return to public duties—and the events that surrounded her surgery, disappearance, and announcement. Make sure to watch this space for updates.

What surgery did Kate have?

On January 17, Kensington Palace announced Kate’s hospitalization for a “planned abdominal surgery,” but refrained from specifying the reason for the operation.

“The surgery was successful, and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days, before returning home to continue her recovery,” the statement read.

At the time, sources told Harper’s Bazaar the condition was not cancerous.

britain health royals kate
Police officers stand guard outside the London Clinic, where Princess Kate was hospitalized for a “planned abdominal surgery.”HENRY NICHOLLS - Getty Images

When will Kate return to royal duties?

When news of her surgery first broke, the palace said the princess was not expected to return to her duties until after Easter, which fell on March 31 this year. But that timeline changed on March 22, after Kate announced she had been diagnosed with cancer. A source told Harper’s Bazaar she was no longer expected to resume work on or soon after Easter, but rather: “The princess will return to official duties when she is cleared to do so by her medical team.”

Although we don’t yet know when that will be, the palace has released a few updates on her return-to-work status since then. In June, Us Weekly published a statement from a palace spokesperson that said, “We have been really clear that [Kate] needs the space and the privacy to recover right now. She will return to work when she has had the green light from doctors.”

While a source for the outlet alleged that Kate “may never come back in the role that people saw her in before,” a Bazaar royal insider claimed the opposite.

“There is no information about Kate’s ‘return’ because the focus at this moment in time is 100 percent on her health—to suggest she won’t return to her role is unfair and untrue,” the source said. “Conversations of that nature are just not being had. When the time is right, she will resume her work.”

On June 14, Kate did confirm in an open letter that she would be making an appearance at Trooping the Colour on June 15. However, the appearance will not mark a full-time return to royal duties. She wrote, “My treatment is ongoing and will be for a few more months. … I’m looking forward to attending the King’s Birthday Parade this weekend with my family and hope to join a few public engagements over the summer, but equally knowing I am not out of the woods yet.”

Why have we hardly seen Kate since her surgery?

Until her video statement, the palace kept mum on Kate’s progress after her surgery, releasing very few statements about and barely any photos of the princess, presumably in an effort to maintain her privacy.

The day her surgery was announced, the palace said Kate hoped “that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private. Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’s progress when there is significant new information to share.”

So where have we seen Kate?

Paparazzi captured the first public photos of the princess since Christmas on March 4; they showed the royal in sunglasses, in the passenger seat of a car driven by mom Carole Middleton. The photos were reportedly taken near Windsor Castle, where Kate has been recuperating.

Then, in celebration of the U.K.’s Mother’s Day on March 10, Kensington Palace released the first official photo of Kate since Christmas—a picture of her with her children. The portrait immediately generated buzz, as many social media users pointed out that certain elements appeared to have been edited. The controversy was exacerbated when the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Getty Images, and Reuters retracted distribution of the portrait just hours after its release. “At closer inspection it appears that the source has manipulated the image,” an AP notification explained.

The following day, March 11, Kate issued a rare personal apology for the mishap, admitting to having edited the photo. “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” she wrote in a statement posted to X. “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.” Subsequent analyses of the metadata confirmed that the photo file had been saved twice on Adobe Photoshop the previous week.

A source from Kensington Palace told Bazaar, “This was an amateur, family photograph taken by the Prince of Wales. [William and Kate] wanted to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day.”

The source added that Kate had “made minor adjustments” to the picture, and that the family as a whole had spent the holiday “together and had a wonderful day.” The unedited original photograph will not be released.

On the same day the palace published Kate’s apology, paparazzi snapped photos of the princess riding in a car with William while leaving Windsor Castle. She was photographed with her head in profile, looking out the window, while William’s face was turned down.

On March 17, The Sun reported witnesses saying they’d spotted Kate and William visiting a market the day before, about a mile away from their Windsor home. TMZ later published a short video clip of the prince and princess’s visit, which showed Kate smiling and walking alongside William while dressed in a black hooded jacket, black yoga pants, and black sneakers.

“After all the rumors that had been going round, I was stunned to see them there,” a witness added. “Kate was out shopping with William, and she looked happy and she looked well. The kids weren’t with them, but it’s such a good sign she was healthy enough to pop down to the shops.”

On March 22, Kensington Palace released the first official video of Kate since her surgery, in which she announced she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Multiple publications reported in late May that she had been sighted in public running errands and spending time with her kids.

Then, on June 14, the palace released the first new photo of Kate in months, in conjunction with Kate confirming she would be attending the following day’s Trooping the Colour. The portrait shows the princess—clad in a white tee, jeans, and a striped beige blazer—standing underneath a tree with her arms crossed.

kate will make her first public appearance
Matt Porteous

The following day, Kate at last made her first public appearance since December when she joined other members of the royal family in the Trooping the Colour parade. She rode in a carriage down the Mall—accompanied by kids George, Charlotte, and Louis—dressed in a white Jenny Packham dress and Philip Treacy hat.

kate middleton
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princess kate makes a glowing royal comeback
JUSTIN TALLIS - Getty Images

What do we know about her recuperation period?

Kate was discharged from the London Clinic on January 29, nearly two weeks after her surgery.

“The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress,” the palace said in a statement at the time. “The prince and princess wish to say a huge thank you to the entire team at the London Clinic, especially the dedicated nursing staff, for the care they have provided. The Wales family continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world.”

A royal source also told Bazaar, “The princess is in good spirits.”

On February 27, nearly a month after her release from the hospital, a source close to the family told Bazaar that Kate’s recovery was still going well.

On February 29, Kensington Palace released a statement that addressed the increasingly frenzied public speculation over Kate’s absence: “We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant.”

the british royal family attend the christmas morning service
Before her March 22 video statement, Kate had last made a public appearance on Christmas, when she joined other members of the royal family for the annual walk to Sandringham Church.Samir Hussein - Getty Images

On March 13, a Kensington Palace insider gave Bazaar an exclusive update on the princess's health, revealing that she is “doing well, all things considered.” The insider added that she had even left Adelaide Cottage, the Waleses’ Windsor residence, at least three times within the past two weeks. On one outing, the source noted, Kate was “smiling, upbeat, and enjoying being out.”

Still, the speculation over her Photoshop scandal had “caused some stress for the princess,” the source added. “But she tends not to pay attention to online chatter or even the press. I think people forget that this was simply a mother wanting her family to look their best in a photograph that was going to be heavily scrutinized. She was protecting her children.”

On March 21, the palace told Bazaar that Kate was getting back into the groove of her royal duties by working from home. “The princess has been kept updated throughout the process,” a representative said. The Telegraph reported that Kate has been involved in a project focusing on improving the lives of newborn babies, an extension of her long-held passion for the field of early childhood development.

And then on March 22, the princess announced in a personal video that she had been diagnosed with cancer. “In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was noncancerous,” she said in the clip, which was posted to social media accounts for the Prince and Princess of Wales. “The surgery was successful; however, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy, and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.”

On June 14, Kate gave a personal but vague update on her cancer treatment. “I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days. On those bad days you feel weak, tired, and you have to give in to your body resting. But on the good days, when you feel stronger, you want to make the most of feeling well,” she wrote in a letter released by the palace. “My treatment is ongoing and will be for a few more months. On the days I feel well enough, it is a joy to engage with school life, spend personal time on the things that give me energy and positivity, as well as starting to do a little work from home.”

Has Prince William said anything about Kate’s health?

On February 7, William resumed his royal duties for the first time since his wife’s surgery, to attend the annual fundraising gala for the London Air Ambulance. (The event also marked the prince’s first public outing since Buckingham Palace had announced King Charles’s cancer diagnosis on February 5.)

At the gala, William referenced the family’s recent bout of alarming health news. “I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you, also, for the kind messages of support for Catherine and for my father, especially in recent days. It means a great deal to us all,” he said in a speech, before jokingly adding, “It’s fair to say the past few weeks have had a rather ‘medical’ focus. So I thought I’d come to an air ambulance function to get away from it all!”

At another event held at Windsor Castle earlier that day, William offered some rare insight into the team guiding Kate through her recovery. According to a LinkedIn post shared by Trish Spruce—a recruiter for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, who was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire at the investiture ceremony—the Prince of Wales “said that Catherine had two Filipino nurses looking after her and they were amazing and kind.”

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