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Kate Middleton’s Surgery Remains In a ‘Shroud of Secrecy’ With Many Family Members Still in the Dark (Exclusive)

It seemed innocent enough: On Sunday, March 10, Princess Kate Middleton shared a family photo on Instagram showing her seated in a chair, surrounded by her three smiling children — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5. The caption wished her fellow U.K. moms a happy Mother’s Day and thanked the public for their well-wishes following her recent abdominal surgery.

It was the first official photo of the princess to be released since her January 16 procedure, and it appeared intended to reassure royal-watchers — who’d noted the future queen’s prolonged absence from public life, as well as a lack of communication from Kensington Palace about her health — that she was, in fact, on the mend.

But within hours, social media was in a frenzy over the image. Some skeptics questioned when the photo was taken, while others said it appeared to be digitally altered. Major news agencies swiftly recalled the photo, saying it had been “manipulated.” With that, conspiracy theories about Kate’s wellness and whereabouts reached a fever pitch online.

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The following day, Kate addressed the photo controversy via X (formerly Twitter), writing, “Like many 
amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” and adding, in part, “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion.” 
Later that afternoon, she was photographed in the back seat of a car with Prince William, reportedly on her way to an appointment. William, 41, headed to Westminster Abbey for the annual Commonwealth Day service without her.

The strange unfolding of events has only added to growing concerns about the 42-year-old princess. According to one royal source, Kate is “doing well” but has no intentions of sharing more about her condition with the public for now.

“Whatever the reason for the operation was, it’s of a personal nature, and Kate wants to keep the details as private as possible,” explains the source, adding that even some members of her own family are still in the dark. “Perhaps when she’s feeling up to it, she may reveal more, but she’s not making any promises.”

Kate Middleton Us Weekly 2413 Cover No Chips
Karwai Tang/WireImage

In mid-January, Kensington Palace announced that Kate had undergone a planned abdominal procedure and would be out of the public eye until after Easter. The statement offered few additional details about the mystery medical procedure but noted that the princess was “making good progress” upon her release from London Clinic hospital.

Once rumors about her condition picked up — including one report in the Spanish media that she was in a coma — the palace reiterated that it would only share updates “when there is significant new information.”

Though a grainy photo surfaced on March 4 of Kate in a car with her mother, Carole Middleton, near Windsor Castle, the public has been clamoring for more information from the princess herself. A second source says the palace is being “very hush-hush” about the whole situation.

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“A few of Kate’s senior staffers haven’t been able to see or speak to her, and they didn’t even know about the surgery until it was announced, so it’s caught them off guard,” the source claims to Us. Kate has just recently started to open up to members of her inner circle about the nature of her operation and recovery process. “Only a few people know what’s really going on, and they’re tight-lipped.”

The source says Kate’s had a few visitors — including King Charles III (who is receiving treatment for cancer, which Buckingham Palace announced on February 5), and his wife, Queen Camilla — but is otherwise covered by a “shroud of secrecy.” The source adds, “It’s confusing and causing some concern.”

Kate Middleton Us Weekly 2413 UK Mothers Day
Prince of Wales/Kensington Palace / MEGA

Kate understands the curiosity — but aside from her closest family and friends, she’s adamant about maintaining some sense of privacy. “Kate’s said she feels she’s entitled to heal and recuperate without all of this frenzied speculation,” says the first source, noting that it was the princess’ decision to keep details about her surgery under wraps. “Neither Kate nor William think her medical records should be for public consumption.”

It’s been a rough two months for the couple. “She’s trying not to pay attention to all the rumors and gossip, and William is doing his best to shield her, but it’s distressing,” says the first source.

William is at his wit’s end over the constant questions about his wife as he continues to fill in for his ailing dad and help out with the kids at home. Adds the source: “This has been a stressful time for William and Kate, but they’re made of tough stuff and are weathering through.”

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According to the source, it was a “collective decision” to share the ill-fated Mother’s Day post. There’s talk the palace was frantically trying to control the chaos. “[The idea was that] Kate could thank members of the public for all the support and at the same time put some of those ridiculous conspiracy rumors to rest.”

Kate has taken the fall with her photo-editing confession, but it’s been a PR disaster. That’s the last thing the royal family needs right now, with Kate and Charles, 75, recuperating, and William pulling double duty to cover for them. (Camilla, 76, took some time off in early March after exhausting herself with 13 official engagements.)

“There’s an unsettling feeling that things are crumbling within the monarchy,” says the source. “William is under tremendous pressure to keep things afloat.”

Kate Middleton Us Weekly 2413 Christmas
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Kate’s trying her best to focus on her recovery, resting and getting fresh air when she can. “Her mother has been a huge help,” shares the first source, explaining that Carole has acted as Kate’s “personal chauffeur and brought books and magazines for her to read during her convalescence.”

Kate and William are both hoping things blow over sooner rather than later. “Kate’s extremely keen to get back to work,” says the source. “This has been one of the most challenging months for Kate as a royal, and she’s praying the fuss dies down as soon as possible.”

Watch the exclusive video above for more details on Kate’s surgery and recovery journey — and pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now.

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