All Your Kate Middleton Questions, Answered

The Princess Of Wales Opens Evelina London’s New Children’s Day Surgery Unit
Photo: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Over the past few months, you have probably heard a rumor about Kate Middleton. Kensington Palace announced that the Princess of Wales underwent a “planned abdominal surgery” in January, and after she was not seen in public for two months, people began to speculate. Conspiracies flew, and a botched-Photoshop scandal and the re-emergence of speculation around Prince William’s fidelity certainly didn’t help people remain calm. Middleton was seen in a few blurry photos and videos, but nothing was certain until recently. In March, Middleton announced that cancerous cells were found during her abdominal surgery and that she was in the early stages of chemotherapy. Here’s everything to know.

Did Kate really have surgery?

This mess started on January 17, when the palace shared that Middleton had undergone a “planned” abdominal surgery. According to the statement, she would stay in the hospital for two weeks before continuing her recovery at home and likely wouldn’t be participating in public events until Easter. The statement also noted that Middleton wanted her “personal medical information” to remain private. On January 29, the palace followed up with an update that Middleton had gone home to continue her recovery and was making “good progress.”

Then, in late February Prince William backed out of a royal engagement — a service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, who died in 2023 — due to what Kensington Palace called a “personal matter.” The last-minute change surprised royal watchers, particularly because he was supposed to speak during the service. Though the palace didn’t elaborate on what personal matter William was skipping the service for, a royal aide — likely anticipating that William’s absence would prompt speculation about Middleton’s health — told CNN that the Princess of Wales “continues to be doing well.”

Did those updates satisfy everyone?

The smattering of cryptic updates only fueled more wild speculation that Middleton was not, in fact, doing well. At one point, X was juggling theories that Middleton was recovering from a BBL or at the disastrous Willy Wonka event in Scotland. Other people were convinced the bizarre sequence of events could somehow be chalked up to the fact that she and Prince William were getting divorced.

Amid the rampantly spreading conspiracies, a rep for Middleton reiterated to “Page Six” that the princess was “doing well,” adding, “Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the princess’s recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates. That guidance stands.”

What’s this edited photo controversy?

On March 10, less than a week after Middleton was spotted by TMZ for the first time since Christmas, the official social-media accounts for William and Kate shared a photo of her with their three children in celebration of Mother’s Day (which the U.K. observes in March). What was initially deemed another proof-of-life photo quickly backfired when several news outlets retracted the image, citing evidence that suggested it had been doctored.

A day later, a post from Kate and Williams’s official account on X attempted to explain the bizarrely edited photo by claiming that Kate had doctored it herself. “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” the message, which was signed “C,” read. “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.”

Has Kate been seen in any non-doctored photos?

In early March — about a week before the Mother’s Day catastrophe — Middleton was photographed by TMZ in a car near Windsor Castle with her mother, Carole, wearing sunglasses and an inscrutable expression. Another grainy image surfaced a few hours into the Photoshop controversy, when the princess was seen hitching a ride out of Windsor Castle with Prince William, who was en route to an appearance at Westminster Abbey. According to People, Kate was dropped off at a private appointment. Naturally, this photo also spurred accusations of Photoshopping, but the photographer denied editing it beyond cropping and lightening.

The following weekend, TMZ published footage of Kate and William strolling around the Windsor Farm Shop, a grocery store and café on the palace grounds. Of course, the internet was immediately flooded with conspiracy theories that this was actually a famous Middleton look-alike named Heidi Agan, who has denied standing in for the princess. According to the man who took the video, the royal couple was shopping for bread together, and Middleton looked “relieved, like it was a success going to a shop.” On the other hand, maybe she was just telegraphing the face of someone not currently in a coma.

And what of the marchioness?

Amid all this chatter, a handful of media outlets decided it was a great time to revisit William’s rumored (emphasis on rumored) affair with Rose Hanbury. Hanbury, who is more formally known as the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, was at some point a close friend of the royal couple’s, but in 2019, tabloids reported that she and Middleton had a falling-out. Around then, In Touch claimed Kate had confronted her husband about an affair with Hanbury and he “laughed it off, saying there was nothing to it.” There was also a 2022 DeuxMoi rumor about an extramarital affair in the royal family that famously led a lot of people to believe Prince William loves being pegged. Another detail that has gotten a lot of airtime on X: Hanbury bears a vague resemblance to Kate, though I might argue most British aristocrats look like that.

This is all to say the rumor that Kate’s semi-disappearance could be explained by an impending divorce has dredged up rumors of this affair. Stephen Colbert dedicated a two-minute segment to breaking down the gossip, during which he referred to Hanbury as the “marching band of chicanery” and “Marcus Mumford of Chumbawumba.” Seemingly in response to this elaborate display of wordplay, Hanbury denied the affair through her lawyers, who told Business Insider, “The rumors are completely false.”

What did Kate say about her cancer diagnosis?

On March 22, Kate announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer and was in the early stages of receiving chemotherapy. “In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was noncancerous,” she said in a video shared to her and William’s social channels. “The surgery was successful; however, tests after the operation found cancer had been present.”

Kate did not share what condition her abdominal surgery had been for, nor what kind of cancer she had been diagnosed with. Instead, she requested privacy for her and her family. “We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment,” she said.

In a statement from William and Kate following the announcement, the couple shared their gratitude for the outpouring of support they’d received.

“The prince and princess are both enormously touched by the kind messages from people here in the U.K., across the Commonwealth and around the world in response to Her Royal Highness’ message,” they said. “They are extremely moved by the public’s warmth and support and are grateful for the understanding of their request for privacy at this time.”

Have Harry and Meghan weighed in?

Amid the Mother’s Day meltdown, a quote attributed to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle started circulating in which the couple remarked that the photo-editing blunder “isn’t a mistake that Meghan would ever make,” thanks to her “keen eye and freakish attention to detail.” Representatives for the couple have denied they ever expressed this notion.

When Middleton announced her cancer diagnosis, Harry and Meghan released a statement of support. “We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace,” they said. The couple also reached out to Middleton privately, as reported in People. Upsettingly, the Times of London reported that Harry and Meghan only found out about Middleton’s diagnosis on TV, just like the rest of us. A few days earlier, People reported that the couple were “being left out” of any details surrounding Middleton, with one source saying, “There is clearly no trust.” Maybe if they knew a little more about the situation Meghan wouldn’t have launched her new jam brand in the middle of all this.

This post has been updated.

All Your Kate Middleton Questions, Answered