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Prince William Apologizes For Kate Middleton’s BAFTAs Absence After Abdominal Surgery

kate middleton
Kate Middleton Just Underwent Abdominal SurgeryStephen Pond - Getty Images

On Sunday night, Prince William walked the 2024 British Academy Film Arts Awards (more commonly known as the BAFTAs) red carpet solo as Kate Middleton continued to recover from last month's abdominal surgery. But, the Prince of Wales made sure to let film and television buffs everywhere know that his wife wasn't pleased about missing the event, telling arts executive Elaine Bedell at the awards ceremony, per PEOPLE, "I'm sorry Catherine's not here. She does love the BAFTAs."

The couple usually watch the nominees together, he explained, but due to Kate's surgery—and his father King Charles' cancer diagnosis—he's seen "the fewest I've ever done before, annoyingly."

"I've had other things on my mind," he added. "It’s been a bit [hand motion]—a bit like that. But hopefully, I’ll catch up."

William briefly stepped back from public duties on Feb. 13 to look after the couple’s children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—while they were on break from school amid Kate's surgery recovery. The family gathered at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, after Kate was cleared to travel there in early February.

The prince is “coping remarkably well, considering his wife had surgery and he only found out his father’s news recently,” according to a friend of William’s who spoke with PEOPLE.

On February 9, Kate left Windsor Castle for the first time since her planned abdominal surgery in January, The Daily Mail reported. The Princess of Wales, 42, was previously recovering from her surgery at Adelaide Cottage in Windsor after being released from the hospital on January 29.

"Catherine is recovering well," a source told The Daily Mail. "She was looking forward to a change of scene and will be able to take it easy in Norfolk while the children let off steam with William.”

The couple's relocation to Anmer Hall also brought them closer to King Charles, who is staying at Sandringham amid his cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The news of Kate's abdominal surgery was first announced on January 17. Kensington Palace again shared an official statement on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Instagram account that read: “Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales was admitted to hospital yesterday for planned abdominal surgery. The surgery was successful and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for ten to fourteen days, before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter. ”

“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate,” the statement continued. “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.” Kensington Palace also noted that it “will only provide updates on Her Royal Highness' progress when there is significant new information to share.”

Kate stayed in the hospital for roughly two weeks, from January 16 to January 29, based on this official statement. On January 29, Kensington Palace announced that Kate was back home and "making good progress" in her recovery from a “planned abdominal surgery” that took place on January 16.

"The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress," Kensington Palace shared on Instagram. The Prince and Princess of Wales also wished "a huge thank you to the entire team at the London Clinic, especially the dedicated nursing staff" in the statement.

The Wales family also said they were "grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world."

After the news of Kate's health situation was initially shared on social media back in January, the comments section of the post were flooded with well-wishes, as well as questions about what “abdominal surgery” means. Here’s what to know about the medical term and what abdominal surgery can entail.

What is abdominal surgery?

“Abdominal surgery” is a broad term used to describe a surgical procedure that involves opening the abdominal cavity, according to The University of Tennessee Medical Center. It usually involves treating diseases, conditions, or injuries to the stomach and bowels, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, bile ducts, or surrounding soft tissues, the organization says.

Why did Princess Kate have to get abdominal surgery?

It isn’t clear. In fact, Kensington Palace noted that she wants to keep this information private, so the public will likely never know.

However, PEOPLE noted that the issue is “non-cancerous," and according to Kensington Palace's official statement, the surgery was "planned" and "successful."

That said, the Princess of Wales "situation came as a surprise even to those who work closely with the royal family" and that "within their broader circle of family friends, there had been no indication that anything was wrong," PEOPLE reported.

What are the reasons for abdominal surgery?

There are a lot of potential reasons someone might undergo abdominal surgery, including the repair or removal of different tissues and organs in the abdominal area, per The University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Common reasons for abdominal surgeries include:

  • Removal of the appendix (aka an appendectomy)

  • Gall bladder removal surgery

  • Hernia repair

  • Removal of malignant tumors and lesion (and non-cancerous growths like lipomas)

How is abdominal surgery done?

The way the surgery is completed depends on the procedure someone is having done. Some medical conditions require more intensive surgeries, while others can be done via laparoscopic surgery, which is a surgical technique where short, narrow tubes are inserted into the abdomen through small incisions, per Medline Plus.

Where did Kate undergo abdominal surgery?

Kate received abdominal surgery at The London Clinic, the largest independent, private hospital in the U.K., according to PEOPLE. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II’s parents—King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother—in 1932. The hospital is currently equipped to treat 155 different conditions and has over 1,000 nursing, clinical, and support staff.

Kate isn't the first member of the royal family to receive care at the hospital. Like the Princess of Wales, the late Prince Philip also had abdominal surgery there in 2013, per PEOPLE. The late Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister) had skin lesions removed there in 1980, and in 1960, the Duke of Windsor (Queen Elizabeth’s uncle) underwent an eye operation, the publication reported.

What does abdominal surgery recovery look like?

Recovery time can vary for abdominal surgery, depending on the type of surgery someone has and why it was done. With laparoscopic surgery, you can usually go back to work after three days, Cleveland Clinic says. But recovery from more invasive surgeries may take longer.

The day after Kate's surgery, Prince William visited her at the hospital to check in on her initial recovery. However, the couple's three children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—weren't able to visit their mother, a source told Cosmopolitan. "They've been in school and haven't seen their mother yet," the source told the outlet.

And although Kate wasn't able to see her kids while she recovered in the hospital, she was visited by her father-in-law, King Charles, according to PEOPLE. The monarch visited the Princess of Wales on Friday, January 25, ahead of his own surgery to treat an enlarged prostate. Charles was photographed arriving at the London Clinic with his wife, Queen Camilla, the same hospital where Kate underwent abdominal surgery, per the publication. Buckingham Palace confirmed that King Charles had been admitted to a London hospital for “scheduled treatment” in a statement on January 26.

William also postponed some of his own public engagements, PEOPLE reported, but has since resumed his royal duties while Kate continues her at-home recovery. (The couples' two international trips have also been put on hold.)

The Prince and Princess of Wales Instagram account posted a series of pictures of William hosting an investiture ceremony and "honouring amazing people doing incredible things in our communities up and down the country," the caption read.

Patricia Spruce, a woman who works for the National Health Service in the UK, shared on her LinkedIn that she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) from William at the ceremony and discussed Kate's healthcare with him. "Prince William said that Catherine had two Filipino nurses looking after her and they were amazing and kind," she wrote.

How common is abdominal surgery?

Abdominal surgery isn’t rare, but this can vary depending on the type of surgery. An appendectomy, for example, is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States and globally. Hernia repairs are also very common.

How risky is it?

The health risk involved in abdominal surgeries depend on the type of surgery being performed. However, all surgeries come with risks.

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