What’s Going On With Kate Middleton? Depends Who You Ask

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UPDATE: On Sunday March 10, Kensington Palace released an official portrait of the Kate Middleton with her children, thanking well-wishers for their kind words.

However, the photo was swiftly recalled by major news agencies like the Associated Press and AFP over concerns about it possibly being manipulated. The princess herself claimed she had edited the photo, saying she was “experimenting," and apologized.

Original story:

What’s going on with Kate Middleton? If you haven’t asked yourself this question during the past week, then you probably haven’t seen the endless chatter that seems to be taking over social media. First, let’s get this out of the way: The future queen most likely is indeed recovering from abdominal surgery, just as Kensington Palace said she is.

But a confluence of factors—and the public’s rabid preoccupation with celebrity gossip—have converged to make some people online think that something is very amiss.

Here are the actual facts. The Princess of Wales had not been spotted from Christmas Day until last week, when TMZ obtained photos of her sitting in a car with her mother, Carole. Besides that, Kate has been completely absent from public life since the Christmas holiday, when she, her husband Prince William, and their three children joined the rest of the royal family for a church service. She was smiling and looked well, judging solely on photos.

On January 17, Kensington Palace announced that the princess had undergone a “planned abdominal surgery” and would spend 10 to 14 days in the hospital recovering. The statement attempted to prepare the public for Princess Kate to take a long break from public life, saying that she would not resume royal duties until after the Easter holiday on March 31. That same day Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III had undergone a procedure for an enlarged prostate. Less than a month later, on February 5, the palace released another statement saying that during that procedure, doctors had discovered Charles had an unspecified form of cancer, for which he is now being treated.

To the public, it was a lot of information all at once, and the princess’s health news was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that the king of England was facing his own health challenges. At first it seemed everyone just wished Kate well. People speculated on what the surgery could be for—some guessed a hysterectomy, for example—but Kensington Palace didn’t share the reason, perhaps planting a seed in people’s minds that there’s something to hide, especially since Buckingham Palace had been forthcoming about the king’s issues. On January 29, Kensington Palace announced Kate was headed home to continue her recovery.

This all may seem fairly benign, but we live in 2024. Kate Middleton is one of the most photographed people in the world, and the fact that she vanished for months is unusual. As people have pointed out on social media, why could the princess not just show her face online, to assuage everyone’s curiosity? A little Instagram photo with her kids, even sitting in bed, would put many of the most overblown rumors (that she’s in a coma, that she and the children have fled the country) to rest. And because she hasn’t, does that mean something actually might be wrong? (Unfortunately for the princess, the grainy pap shots didn't cut it).

It’s important to contextualize the moment we are currently in. Picking apart and theorizing about the secret lives of celebrities has become our chosen pastime. Just look at the endless dissection of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship—fans are speculating about how the couple feels about each other, extracting clues and Easter eggs based on everything from the jewelry Swift wears on game days to a certain video angle of them kissing after a concert. Online investigators are also attempting to get hints about Swift’s upcoming album by comparing things as seemingly random as her song titles to her red-carpet outfits. We lip-read to understand what celebrities are whispering to each other, we dissect pap walks, and we read Deux Moi. To be completely cut off from any of this access in the case of someone as famous as Kate feels foreign, and it creates an element of suspense where one may or may not exist.

Curiosity about the future queen’s whereabouts has been slowly building on social media all month, but the chatter hadn’t truly entered mainstream conversation until this week when a tipping point occurred on Tuesday, February 27.

After numerous outlets reported that Prince William had pulled out of attending a memorial service for King Constantine of Greece, citing a “personal matter,” the people on X.com who’d been screaming about #WhereIsKate began to be listened to by a wider audience, and others started digging. Members of the curious public began to put forth theories about what really happened to the princess, from the extremely worrisome (which we don’t feel the need to repeat) to the absurd (that the princess is recovering from a BBL or is growing out her bangs).

This is the time in the story where it must be said: There are very logical reasons why Kate has not been seen in public for two months. Most likely? She really is recovering from some sort of major surgery and doesn’t feel the need to feed the beast that is the public’s demand for details. Plus, we all know how horribly the press has treated members of the royal family who went through hard times in the past, from Princess Diana to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, so Kate’s choice to completely disengage could be lauded as a necessary step towards the privacy she deserves.

And let’s not forget that the palace’s initial statement very clearly stated the princess would be recovering privately which, okay, kind of does translate to “missing” from the public eye for at least another month. We were told about this! It seems like the amateur online sleuths need to chill (and maybe pick up a new hobby.) In fact, a spokesperson for the Princess of Wales told Page Six on Thursday, February 29, that she is doing well.

“Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the princess’s recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates,” they said. “That guidance stands.”

At this point, trying to stop the conspiracy freight train is probably a lost cause. The only thing that may help is giving the people what they want, which is giving into their demands and posting some photos of Kate (that of course everyone can then dissect).

It’s Kate Middleton’s prerogative if she wants to feed the beast, but it’s the only way to stop it.

This story has been updated.

Stephanie McNeal is a senior editor at Glamour and the author of Swipe Up for More! Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influencers.

Originally Appeared on Glamour