Just weeks after Kate, the Princess of Wales, stepped away from the limelight to recover from a “planned abdominal surgery,” the public became gripped by wild speculations Kensington Palace is concealing details regarding the princess’ health status.

It started out lighthearted. When Prince William backed out of a scheduled royal engagement at the last minute, his absence fueled playful rumors that Kate was a contestant on the masked singer or growing out a bad set of bangs.

In light of a heavily photoshopped Instagram post, theories from the public took a turn for the dark — with some claiming Kate is dead, King Charles is dead and that the British monarchy is on its last limb.

Despite several claims from Kensington Palace and royal sources that all is well and a handful of blurry photos of Kate, the public is not buying it.

Kate’s most recent official public appearance was on Christmas Day. According to Kensington Palace’s original statement, she will be returning to royal duties within the next few weeks. “Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter,” per the Kensington Palace statement. Easter comes Sunday, March 31 — but it seems Kate might not make her offical return to the public until mid-April, per London newspaper The Times.

As the public eagerly waits for an update — or an official public appearance — from Kate, here is everything we know about her ongoing absence from the public eye.

A timeline of Princess Kate’s alleged disappearance

In light of wild claims Kate is actually dead, faked her death, being held in a mental institution, fed up because William has a mistress or had a secret child, here is an official timeline on Kate’s whereabouts since her operation in January and everything Kensington Palace has said about the princess.

Dec. 25, 2023: Kate joins the royal family on their annual Christmas Day outing.

  • Kate was in good spirits as she walked with William, their three children, King Charles III and Queen Camilla to church on Christmas afternoon, per People.
  • This is the last time Kate was seen in public on official royal business.

Jan. 17, 2024: Kensington Palace announces that Kate is recovering from “planned abdominal surgery.”

  • “Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales was admitted to the London Clinic yesterday for planned abdominal surgery,” per the January statement from Kensington Palace.
  • Further details regarding Kate’s diagnosis or operation were not provided. But the palace noted the surgery was successful and “not cancerous.”
  • Kensington Palace revealed that Kate would remain in the hospital for 10-14 days for recovery and convalescence at home until after Easter (March 31, 2024). While in recovery, Kate will remain absent from all royal and public engagements, said the palace.
  • Due to Kate’s interest in privacy, “Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.”
Kate is recovering after ‘planned’ surgery, while King Charles has an operation of his own

Feb. 27, 2024: A royal aide provides a vague update on Kate’s heath: “The Princess of Wales continues to be doing well,” per Vanity Fair.

  • Conspiracy theories ran amok when Prince William failed to attend a scheduled appearance at an event at Windsor Castle. He excused himself over a “personal matter,” per CBS.
  • The public assumed William’s “personal matter” had to do with Kate’s health status — sending the internet into a frenzy.
  • People created wild conspiracy theories that Kate was taking time for her bangs to grow out, had a secret baby or is the artist Banksy.
Royal aide shares vague update on Kate Middleton’s post-surgery health

March 1, 2024: A royal spokesperson assures the public there are no significant updates regarding Kate’s health.

  • “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,” a royal spokesperson told Vanity Fair in light of theories there was something wilder going on with Kate.

March 5, 2024: Kate is photographed taking a car ride near Windsor Castle with her mother, Carole Middleton, as reported by ABC News.

  • The photograph was not enough to convince a large portion of the public that Kate is doing well. Some even suggested the woman in the photo was her sister, Pippa Middleton.
Kate Middleton puts conspiracy theories to rest in first public outing since abdominal surgery
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March 11, 2024: Kate issues public apology for posting a heavily edited family photo.

  • On Sunday, March 10 (Mother’s Day in the U.K.), Kate posted a photo surrounded by her three children on Instagram. Hours later, The Associated Press advised reporters not to share the photo because “the source has manipulated the image.”
  • In wake of editing claims, Kate issued an apology: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. 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.”
  • Members of the public noted several irregularities in the photo: Princess Charlotte’s skirt appears misshapen, the window panes in the background are uneven, Kate’s hair and hand are blurry and many more.
  • One woman suggested the photo was taken in November and edited to appear more recent. Another person pointed out that it seems unlikely Kate would be “playing around on photoshop” amid recovery.

March 12, 2024: Kate is photographed leaving Windsor Castle with Prince William for a “private appointment,” per People.

March 17, 2024: The Princess of Wales is seen looking “happy, relaxed and healthy” in a video during a St. Patrick’s Day outing, per ABC News. She was allegedly seen with William at a farm shop located within Windsor Park grounds.

  • Some members of the public do not think the woman in the video from the St. Patrick’s Day outing is Kate.

Coming up April 17, 2024: The royal children are expected to return to school on April 17, which is when Kate is expected to return to her royal duties, according to The Times.

  • “Kate is smart, tough, resilient and has good common sense. They will keep their cool heads over it. The public should leave her to recover in peace and leave William to do both his job as the Prince of Wales and his job of looking after his wife and his family as best he can,” a royal source told The Times.
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