Where Is Kate Middleton? A Semi-Comprehensive Guide to the Theories That Have the Internet Spiraling

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Nothing, apparently, captures the attention of the world quite like a missing princess. Kate Middleton has not been seen in public since December 28—unless you believe the few shakily edited and/or blurry photographs that have come out since then, which many do not.

In their initial statement about Kate's “planned abdominal surgery,” Kensington Palace said that the princess would likely be away from public duties until Easter. However, since then, inadvertently or not, they have fanned the flames of doubt by releasing terse statements and, crucially, a doctored photograph of Kate with her kids that was then pulled from major newswires for being misleading.

The internet, being the internet, has come up with plenty of theories on Kate's whereabouts, ranging from the patently absurd to the potentially plausible. Let's review them, starting with the most absurd.

Her abdominal surgery is really a BBL (Brazilian butt lift).

One of the earlier theories that made the round on Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, and elsewhere on the internet was that the surgery Kate got was actually a Brazilian butt lift. The average recovery time for a BBL is around two to three months, which would line up with the palace's initial statement that the Princess of Wales would be out of commission until around Easter. There's no way to really disprove this theory, as Kensington Palace has not gone out of its way to deny it. That said, there's no compelling reason to believe she got a BBL, of all things, in the first place.

She’s growing out her bangs.

This one is mostly a joke. If anyone has access to an elite squadron of hairdressers and high-quality extensions, it would be the Princess of Wales.

The photo of Kate and William in the car was also a fake.

After the British Mother's Day photo debacle, social media was understandably skeptical of the next photo of Kate. On March 11, the Daily Mail published a paparazzi photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton in the car; the photo shows only the back of Kate's head and is so blurry her features are basically unidentifiable.

It's rumored that British tabloids don't usually publish paparazzi photos of the royals without express permission, so some suspected that this image was fed to the outlet by royal staff and that it, too, had been doctored. Their “evidence”: Some pointed to the bricks visible from behind Kate's window, arguing that the pattern doesn't match the bricks outside the vehicle. Others believe the image was another picture of the back of Kate's head that had been photoshopped into the car.

This theory, however, has been debunked. According to the very photographer who took the pic, “We don’t change our photos in Photoshop other than adjusting the light levels if necessary. Car shots are unpredictable at the best of times and with some reflection on the glass it can be difficult.”

Kate and William are headed for divorce, and the palace is trying to sabotage Kate’s public image in preparation for the fallout.

There's an old rumor that Prince William had an affair with Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley (pronounced “Chumley”), thereby making her the Camilla Parker-Bowles to Kate's Princess Diana. Since Kate's disappearance from the public eye, people on social media started speculating that divorce is afoot and it had something to do with the marchioness.

When outlets, such as the UK's The Independent, began publishing explainers about Hanbury—likely as a traffic strategy to jump on the internet's rising interest around her—some Kate watchers took the theory a step further. They theorized that the Independent piece and others were planted by Kensington Palace as a means of “soft-launching” Hanbury as William's new paramour while smearing Kate in the process.

According to the hypothesis, the palace hopes this will soften the blow to William's public image when he eventually leaves Kate for Hanbury, as his father did with Queen Camilla.

The problem here is that the British newspapers are not literally public relations arms of the palace, and even if they were in cahoots with the royal comms teams, the idea that highlighting William's alleged mistress would be good for his image would be an extremely risky gamble.

She’s in a coma.

All the way back in January, Spanish journalist Concha Calleja claimed that Kate had been placed in a medically induced coma, according to Nieman Lab, and even doubled down on her claim after the palace refuted the rumor in the Times of London. A Kensington Palace spokesperson told the outlet, “No attempt was made by that journalist to fact-check anything that she said with anyone in the household. It’s fundamentally, totally made up, and I’ll use polite English here: It’s absolutely not the case.”

Nevertheless, the Spanish media continues to report that Kate is in a coma, and many in the public still believe the story despite the palace’s debunking it.

Kate got a face-lift, and her face is too puffy to be seen in public.

Considering the fact that Kensington Palace has seemingly been doing everything in its power to hide Kate, there are those who believe the mystery has a simple answer: She's getting a face-lift.

Recovery for the procedure can last up to three months, and there are precisely three months between her planned surgery and Easter, when Kensington Palace said she could be expected to return to the public eye.

While this is undoubtedly one of the lighter theories swirling about, this does mean that whenever she does return to public view, we'll all be subjected to hundreds more videos from people scrutinizing her every facial feature for evidence of cosmetic surgery.

She’s dead.

While we can't definitively disprove this theory until Kate makes a public appearance, it would be a bizarre move for the palace to try and hide Kate's death for this long, as it is obviously not a ruse that can go on forever.

Darker theories

The deeper one delves into the #KateGate rabbit hole, the more one comes upon much more sinister and salacious theories involving violence, murder, and mental illness. Reaching this point is a good sign that it's time to log off. And if you made it this far, consider waiting until Easter, when Kate will likely return as the palace claims, before drawing any definitive conclusions.

Originally Appeared on Glamour