The Princess of Wales has spent a second night in hospital after major abdominal surgery as William, her parents and siblings cleared their diaries to support her recovery and care for George, Charlotte and Louis.
Kate is said to be ‘doing well’ as she recovers following the procedure at the London Clinic in Marylebone revealed on the same day King Charles announced he was taking a short break for treatment for an enlarged prostate.
With Prince William also taking leave to care for his wife and children, the so-called ‘big three’ royals will be away from duties over the coming weeks with experts saying that with Harry and Meghan in the US, and Andrew in the cold, there is only Princess Anne and her brother Prince Edward to call on.
Kate is not expected to return to public events until after Easter, and her husband will combine being by his wife’s and children’s side throughout.
Any royal tours William and Kate had in the diary for the coming months will also no longer take place amid speculation they would visit Italy together in March.
Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton and sibling Pippa Matthews and James Middleton are already rallying round and help support her recovery at her home in Windsor.
The Royal Family’s ‘big three’ are out of action because Buckingham Palace also revealed yesterday that King Charles III will attend hospital next week to be treated with a ‘corrective procedure’ for an enlarged prostate.
Kate, Charlotte, George, William and Louis at the Sandringham Christmas Day 2023 service. William is taking time off to support his wife and care for their children
A police officer stands outside the London Clinic today, where Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, is hospitalised for abdominal surgery
Kate’s mother Carole is at the heart of the Middleton’s support network for her daughter and children
Kensington Palace announced that the Princess of Wales has had abdominal surgery
Charles attends a Sunday church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham on January 7
The statement about Charles’ health released by Buckingham Palace
The two health updates on senior royals came within 90 minutes of each other, with Kensington Palace coming first at 2pm then Buckingham Palace followed at 3.30pm.
She was not rushed for hospital and her condition was not something that developed over the weekend, according to reports.
The Prince will also postpone a number of engagements as he supports his family, and will not undertake official duties while his wife is in hospital.
He will also do no official duties during the immediate period after Kate’s return home. Royal aides will provide a revised schedule for William in due course.
It is unclear what the exact nature of the surgery, with The Palace unwilling to reveal any details in respect of Kate’s ‘medical privacy’. However it did not rule out the prospect that she may choose to speak publicly about it herself in the future.
Sun GP Dr Zoe Williams told The Sun: ‘This might be something that has been bothering her for her whole life which she has not got round to resolving, or an issue that has come to light more recently.
‘Two weeks in hospital is longer than we would normally expect, but she doesn’t have a normal life. She’s the future queen so the doctors will be erring on the side of caution.
‘We all hope it is something minor and the surgery is straightforward, but precaution is wise. With anything medical you can never be completely certain how things will go.
‘The most important thing is that she gets enough recovery time and it’s not too stressful for her and her family.’
Kate arrives for the royal carol concert at Westminster Abbey on December 8 last year
Kate with her family at the Westminster Abbey carol concert on December 8 last year
Dr Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, told The Express: ‘For abdominal surgery, most people stay in the hospital for four to seven days. After laparoscopic surgery [a type of keyhole surgery], this is reduced to two to four days.
‘It very much depends on what exactly has been done. If a patient needs to go to ITU, it’s likely their hospital stay would be considerably longer.
‘It can take two months or more for the patient to feel comfortable and be able to move around normally afterwards.’
Neither William nor Kate will travel internationally over the coming months.
William and Kate were said to have been planning a high-profile visit to Rome this spring as part of a European charm offensive, but this is now in doubt. Another scheduled foreign military engagement could be affected.
Kate will almost certainly be forced to miss a number of high-profile events she might otherwise been expected to attend.
She and William have regularly turned up for the Baftas, the biggest night in British cinema, held in central London this month, but this would be too soon for the recovering princess.
She is also likely to miss out on a long-standing royal tradition in March – handing out shamrocks to the Irish Guards on St Patrick’s Day in her role as the regiment’s honorary colonel.
The annual Commonwealth Day Service, also held in March, is likely to have to go ahead without her. The princess, patron of English rugby, is also unlikely to be well enough to attend the Guinness Six Nations, which kicks off next month.
Kate attends the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last November
Police officers stand outside The London Clinic where Kate is staying after surgery
The Princess marked her birthday just over a week ago, with the monarchy’s official social media accounts sharing a new behind-the-scenes photo of the princess at the King’s coronation.
Kate usually enjoys good health but was previously admitted to hospital while pregnant after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – severe morning sickness.
A palace spokesman said: ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales was admitted to The London Clinic 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. 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 will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.
‘The Princess of Wales wishes to apologise to all those concerned for the fact that she has to postpone her upcoming engagements.
‘She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible.’
Royal expert Phil Dampier said: ‘Wishing the Princess of Wales a speedy recovery after abdominal surgery. We don’t know the details but clearly this was serious as she will be in hospital for a fortnight and needs up to three months to recover.’
And the Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said on X: ‘I am sure I speak for everyone in wishing HRH a speedy recovery.’
Like the rest of the royal family, Kate has had a busy, turbulent past couple of years, with the Platinum Jubilee and the late Queen’s death in 2022, and the coronation in 2023, as well as adjusting to her new role as the Princess of Wales.
Kate was admitted to The London Clinic (pictured) for planned abdominal surgery
The Waleses also faced the ongoing rift between William and his brother the Duke of Sussex, with Harry making controversial claims about Charles, Camilla, William and Kate in his Netflix documentary and memoir Spare.
William’s former university flatmate has carefully carved out her charity work since marrying the prince in 2011 and becoming an HRH, focusing on mental health and early childhood.
Seen as the monarchy’s safe pair of hands and as having a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach, Kate has been heralded as channelling the same characteristics of charm, politeness and toughness as the late Queen Mother, who was once described as ‘a marshmallow made on a welding machine’.
Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who was private secretary to the Cambridges and the Duke of Sussex, and used to work for the Queen Mother, told The Times: ‘She takes time to talk to people. She is tough.
‘She has got that Queen Mother feel in her, so that when things need doing, she is there to do them.’
The London Clinic, based on the corner of Devonshire Place and Marylebone Road in central London, is the UK’s largest independent private hospital.
The clinic first opened its doors in 1932 and its previous patients include Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, actress Elizabeth Taylor and US president John F Kennedy.