Entertainment

‘If Kate Middleton misses Wimbledon’ … Concern about the princess is ramping up again

It’s not clear whether the princess will be at several major events in the next month, including Saturday’s Trooping the Color and her beloved Wimbledon tennis tournament

Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales applauds during the trophy ceremony after the men’s singles final tennis match between Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on the last day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 16, 2023.

Two months ago, Kate Middleton seemed to win respite from people widely speculating about her health by recording a video in which she forthrightly explained that she has cancer and is undergoing “preventative chemotherapy,” while assuring the public, “I am well and getting stronger every day.”

But that respite is turning out to be brief, and the wild speculation is ramping up again, following different news reports about whether or not the Princess of Wales will attend an important upcoming event. Reports also have offered a range of target dates for how long Britain’s very popular royal will remain out of the public eye — from all of June, through autumn, to the end of the year.

There’s no word, for example, on whether Kate will attend the Wimbledon tennis championships, starting July 1. An avid tennis fan and patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Kate usually attends the tournament’s major matches, always impeccably attired, and hands out trophies to winners.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: In this handout images released by Kensington Palace on June 24, 2023, Catherine, Princess of Wales and Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer talk before playing tennis on No.3 Court at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, on June 8, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Handout/Thomas Lovelock – AELTC via Getty Images)

But her possible absence from Wimbledon 2024 has prompted some of the chatter about how she’s doing. “I’ve said for a while that if Kate misses Wimbledon in July, then there is something very serious going on,” one person wrote on X.

While this person may be trying to suggest something grim about Kate’s condition, it could also be said that any kind of cancer is serious, and that Kate, her husband Prince William and the rest of her family are clearly taking her recovery very seriously.

But within this context, it was widely reported that she missed a major event last weekend, a rehearsal for this upcoming weekend’s Trooping The Color, the Daily Beast reported. As the new honorary colonel of the Irish Guards, the 42-year-old mother of three was invited to attend the rehearsal, but instead sent a letter apologizing for her absence.

But even as she missed the rehearsal, the palace still hasn’t made it clear whether she’ll be present at Trooping the Color on Saturday. This is the official celebration of the British monarch’s birthday, which culminates in the King’s Birthday Parade through the streets of London and members of the royal family appearing together on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, the Daily Beast said.

Buckingham Palace, however, hinted that she wouldn’t participate in events related to the state visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan, June 25-27, Newsweek reported. A news release only mentioned that Prince William would greet the imperial couple at their hotel in London before attending a welcome ceremony with them at Buckingham Palace.

Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales (R) gives the Venus Rosewater Dish trophy to Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova during the prize ceremony after winning the women’s singles final tennis match against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on the thirteenth day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 15, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, William offered what could be seen as a positive update on his wife’s condition while attending the 80th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings during World War II, Newsweek reported. While chatting with a veteran, the future king said that his wife is “getting better” and said she “would have loved” to be there. Video of William’s comments to the veteran went viral, probably because there’s otherwise been a dearth of official information about her recovery.

Ever since Kate disappeared from public view after Christmas, Kensington Palace has refused to offer regular updates on the princess’ condition, suggesting that any running commentary would be distasteful and an invasion of her privacy. The palace, though, disclosed that she underwent major abdominal surgery in January, which required a two-week hospital stay.

Kate herself revealed in her March video that the surgery led to her being diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer. The palace also has said she’ll only return to public duties when she’s cleared to do so by her medical team, but, again, hasn’t said anything more specific than that.

Meanwhile, sources who claim to have knowledge of the princess’ health have offered varying accounts of how she’s doing.

Some sources told the Daily Mail last month that the “princess has been seen out and about more with her family in recent weeks, which will be taken as a positive sign by many.” But Kensington Palace sources also were keen to stress late last month that she wasn’t returning to work anytime soon, after the release of a major report on early childhood development that she was involved in.

Another Daily Mail journalist, columnist Richard Eden, cited friends of Kate’s who said it could be months until she is seen again in public. “Friends I spoke to in the past few days suggest we might not see Catherine again until the autumn – and only then if she has recovered fully,” Eden reported.

The Daily Beast’s royal correspondent Tom Sykes also quoted a source who said she might not be seen in “any kind of public-facing role” through the end of the year. “Lots of people involved in planning need to know what all the principals are doing a long way in advance,” the source said. “I am told that Kate’s diary for this year is empty. There is nothing planned. She may not appear in public for the rest of the year.”

Last week, Us Weekly published the even more startling news that alleged that Kate “may never come back in the role that people saw her in before.” The report said her team is “reevaluating what she’s going to be able to take on when she comes back.”

Over on subreddits dedicated to royal gossip, people are running with all sorts of wild theories about Kate’s health and whereabouts. One of the most popular current theories alleges that the princess is in Houston, undergoing treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is often ranked as the best oncology care hospital in the world. This theory is mostly controversial because it means that the future queen is not relying on her cancer care from Britain’s own National Health Service. On Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported that it had contacted Kensington Palace, which denied the rumor that the Princess of Wales was in Texas undergoing cancer treatment.

Other theories are versions of those that have circulated on the internet since Kate’s surgery in January. There also is the vicious #KateGate gossip that exploded after Kensington Palace posted the infamous March 10 Mother’s Day photo of her and her children that was revealed to have been heavily edited.

But a former royal editor for the British ITN broadcast and media company bemoaned the dearth of official information and noted that William’s comment about his wife’s improvement is along the lines of other anodyne updates he’s given before. “But without in any way dampening down optimism about this, that is all we have heard,” Tim Ewart said in an interview with Australia’s Sky News.

He also expressed concern about the mystery over whether Kate will be on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Saturday’s Trooping the Color. He said her appearance would be a “crucial” tell-all moment.

“We’re hoping that she’ll be on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, but that would be the first time officially that we’ve seen her,” Ewart said. “Does she look well does she look happy? I think it is fair to say people here are still quite concerned about her health.”

Meanwhile, another source close to the princess told Life & Style that she’s trying to focus on her recovery and her family, while ignoring the speculation and public pressure for her to be seen at certain events or within a certain time frame. “Kate’s recovery is a one day-at-a-time thing,” the insider said.

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