A Timeline Of Kate Middleton's Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

From the outset of 2024, all eyes and ears have been on Kate Middleton, with fans worldwide expressing concern over her well-being. Renowned for her consistent engagement with the public, Kate's sudden withdrawal raised eyebrows and fueled speculation, causing the wildest theories to be thrown around left and right. But on March 22, 2024, the Princess of Wales made a shocking revelation: She had been diagnosed with cancer and has since started treatment.

Kate's announcement followed intense media coverage regarding the reasons for her withdrawal from public view. She was reportedly deliberate in taking her time before going public with her health news, with a source telling Us Weekly that she opted to focus on "resting up" and spending time with her family following hospitalization for what was initially described as an unspecified abdominal issue. The news of her cancer diagnosis blindsided both the public and the press, but Kensington Palace was careful not to divulge any more details about her condition. "We will not be sharing any further private medical information. The princess has a right to medical privacy as we all do," a spokesperson for the palace told the BBC.

Since Kate's last public appearance on Christmas Day of 2023, the unfolding of events concerning her situation has been a whirlwind. To help you make sense of it all, here's a detailed timeline leading up to her revelation that took the world by surprise.

January 16: Kate was admitted to the hospital for abdominal surgery

Merely a few weeks after her last public appearance, Kensington Palace announced that Kate Middleton was admitted to the hospital for a "planned abdominal surgery," much to the surprise of fans. This news coincided with King Charles' hospitalization due to an enlarged prostate, catching many off guard. At the time, the palace assured the public that while the Duchess' recovery period would take time, the surgery was largely successful and she would temporarily have to skip out on scheduled engagements.

"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 statement read. "Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness' progress when there is significant new information to share."

While the palace refused to disclose the specific diagnosis that necessitated Kate's surgery, the decision to publicize her medical situation was unexpected, as the royal family historically kept their privacy regarding their health-related matters. At the time, it was understood that Kate's condition was non-cancerous, and she was dedicated to a full recovery to resume her royal duties as soon as possible.

January 29: Kate had been discharged from the hospital

Kensington Palace's initial forecast was fairly accurate; Kate Middleton's hospital stay was within the ten to fourteen days they shared in their previous statement. On January 29, around the thirteenth day, they issued yet another announcement to reveal that Kate had arrived at their residence in Adelaide Cottage, expressing gratitude for the continuous support from well-wishers around the world.

"The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress," the palace said. "The Prince and Princess wish to say a huge thank you to the entire team at The London Clinic, especially the dedicated nursing staff, for the care they have provided. The Wales family continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world."

Roughly a week later, Prince William began participating in public events again, including a fundraising gala for London's Air Ambulance Charity, in which he met with Tom Cruise. He also seized the chance to again express gratitude for the widespread support directed towards his family, especially since it was also around that time that King Charles had been diagnosed with cancer. "I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you, also, for the kind messages of support for Catherine and for my father, especially, in recent days," he said (via Reuters). "It means a great deal to us all."

February 2024: Fans started getting suspicious about Kate's prolonged absence

While the palace was clear that Kate Middleton wouldn't return to the public eye until after Easter, that didn't stop fans from growing antsy due to the lack of updates. With Kate having been absent from public appearances for around 2 months, speculative theories about her prolonged absence started to spread like wildfire — especially on social media. Among the most disturbing theories include Kate undergoing extensive cosmetic surgery, her pulling a "Gone Girl" due to a rumored affair involving Prince William and Rose Hanbury, and even a coma, propelled by statements from Spanish journalist Concha Calleja, who claimed that Kate's health was in "great danger."

It didn't help that Prince William skipped out on some important engagements, most notably the memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, with a source telling CNN that it was due to a "personal matter." Given what we later learned from Kate's statement about her diagnosis, it's probable she had already started cancer treatment by then, which explains William's unexpected absence. "My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment," she shared in her announcement.

February 29: The palace addressed all the wild rumors surrounding Kate

In an unprecedented move, Kensington Palace finally broke its silence to cut through all the rampant speculations, issuing a brief yet no-nonsense statement. While they steered clear of singling out any one rumor, the palace firmly reminded everyone that Kate Middleton was in the middle of recuperating from her surgery, and any expectations for updates before the previously provided schedule were unfounded. "We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant," they said, per People, adding that Kate was "doing well."

The members of the royal family themselves maintained their silence, though hearing the hodgepodge of speculations has not been easy for them, particularly Prince William. "Having seen his mother go through quite a lot of that, the hounding of his mother, I think he feels he is seeing elements of that being breached again in terms of the demands and screeches at his wife over her medical privacy and that is hurting him," Sunday Times royal editor Roya Nikkhah shared on "Good Morning Britain," as noted by the Daily Mail. She also confirmed that William is particularly conscious of the parallels between the experiences of Kate and the late Princess Diana. "He always has been, ever since he has been a child and since he has been with Catherine since university," she said.

March 10: Kate shared the controversial Mother's Day photo

Kate Middleton went on to resurface on March 10, 2024, but not in a way that many had been expecting. She shared a Mother's Day photo with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, all smiles and cuddles, seemingly indicating that she's on the mend from her surgery. Snapped by none other than Prince William, Kate used the photo as an opportunity to share a brief message to her supporters. "Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day. C," she wrote in the caption.

But it didn't take long until eagle-eyed spectators scrutinized the photo and dissected its authenticity. Many claimed that it was AI-generated due to several inconsistencies, with Photoshop experts reportedly finding 16 digital anomalies, ranging from suspicious blurring around her hair to questionable wardrobe edits. And the absence of Kate's engagement ring? That just added fuel to the speculative fire. The situation escalated even further when established news organizations, including the Associated Press, issued a "kill notice" and advised other outlets to stop using the photo. "It appears that the source has manipulated the image," AP noted.

In response to the controversy, Kate took to X, formerly Twitter, to confirm that the photo her family shared online had been digitally altered. "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. C," she wrote in a statement the following day.

March 22: Kate finally clears all speculation with a shocking revelation

Putting an end to all speculations, Kate Middleton took to social media to shed light on her current condition, disclosing her cancer diagnosis and the commencement of chemotherapy treatment. Initially hospitalized for what was believed to be a non-cancerous condition, her medical team eventually found that cancer was present following further tests.

The Princess of Wales also confirmed that she had undergone a lengthy recovery period and that her silence was due to the time she needed to discuss her condition with her children. "It has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte, and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK," she said, adding that she's optimistic about her road to recovery. "I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body, and spirit. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance," she noted.

Kate ended her statement by asking fans to spare her and her family "some time, space and privacy" and offering words of sympathy to many others who are dealing with cancer. "I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone," she said.