Kate Middleton Diagnosed With Cancer: A Timeline Leading Up to Her Health Announcement

The Princess of Wales announced on Friday she's battling cancer and is currently undergoing 'preventative chemotherapy.'

Amid ongoing questions regarding Kate Middleton's whereabouts and her health, the Princess of Wales herself made an announcement about her well-being on March 22.

Kate made the stunning revelation that she's been diagnosed with cancer. Kate, 42, said that when she underwent abdominal surgery earlier this year, it was thought that her condition was non-cancerous. But tests after the operation "found cancer had been present."

Kate did not reveal what kind of cancer she's battling, only that she's currently undergoing "preventative chemotherapy" and is "now in the early stages of that treatment."

The staggering news comes following Kate's much-publicized photo editing controversy that triggered considerable complications, affecting not only the Princess of Wales but also Buckingham Palace. Intended as a heartwarming U.K. Mother's Day portrait to dispel rumors about her whereabouts during her recovery from abdominal surgery, it instead erupted into a controversy that eroded public trust in the palace.

The extent of the damage wrought by Kate's portrait with her children -- Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 -- was unpredictable. Yet, the fallout was swift and severe. News agencies like The Associated Press swiftly retracted the photo, a major global news agency went on the record to say Buckingham Palace is no longer a trusted source, not to mention the unforced error also compounded, yet again, royal infighting while also dredging up headache-inducing headlines for all involved. 

Less than two weeks before Easter, Kate was reportedly spotted with Prince William at a farm shop near their Windsor home, sparking conspiracy theories due to low-quality video footage.

And just this week, there was an investigation into whether medical professionals were trying to access Kate's private health records at the hospital where she underwent surgery in January. 

Here is a timeline of the conspiracies and speculation surrounding Kate since the beginning of 2024.

The Surgeries 

The first alert from Kensington Palace announcing Kate's hospitalization to recover from abdominal surgery went out at exactly 9:04 a.m. EST on Jan. 17. Nearly two hours later -- at exactly 10:51 a.m. EST -- the palace sent out a second alert announcing King Charles III would seek treatment for an enlarged prostate.

In the days and weeks that followed, Brits and those around the world sent the royal figures their well-wishes. On Jan. 29, His Majesty was released from The London Clinic, as was Kate. That same day, the palace announced Kate would not be returning to official royal duties until after Easter, which takes place on March 31 this year.

Queen Camilla shared a health update on Feb. 9, saying Charles was "extremely well under the circumstances." The palace also shared a statement, confirming that Kate was "making good progress" while also expressing the couple's sincerest thanks for the outpouring of support.

But 70 grueling days would come and go before Kate would be seen for the first time (but not in a public setting), prompting speculation regarding her whereabouts. Soon, speculation morphed into conspiracy theories, which forced Prince William's spokesperson to speak out. 

"His focus is on his work and not on social media," the spokesperson told People.

By that point, William, Charles and Camilla had all been in the public eye, but Kate's absence left the public and the internet to come up with a number of theories why. In late February, the palace released a statement sharing that William would miss his godfather, King Constantine II's, funeral due a "personal matter," while also informing the public that Kate was "doing well." 

However, after speculation continued to circulate about the mother of three, the palace released a statement reiterating their comments about her condition. 

"We gave guidance two days ago that the Princess of Wales continues to be doing well," the statement read. "As we have been clear since our initial statement in January, we shall not be providing a running commentary or providing daily updates."

Kate 'Breaks Her Silence'

Finally on March 10, Kensington Palace released a portrait of Kate and her three children in honor of "Mothering Sunday." In the photo, Kate is seen beaming while sitting in a chair outside in jeans and a jacket. All three of her kids are mid-laugh.

According to the palace, the photo was taken by William the week prior in Windsor, England. In her caption, Kate shared a message about her ongoing recovery from abdominal surgery in January.

"Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months," Kate wrote. "Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. C."

The Portrait Is Pulled 

Within hours of the portrait's release, several news agencies around the world, including The Associated Press, pulled the photo from their sites over claims that the image was manipulated. 

"AP initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace. But AP later retracted the image because at closer inspection, it appeared the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP's photo standards," AP explained. "The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte's left hand."

Kate Admits Editing the Portrait

After the AP and a slew of news agencies pulled the photo, Kate admitted to editing the picture.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," Kate wrote in a statement posted on X. "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." 

Amid the backlash, a source told ET that Kate admitted to editing the pic to apologize and in order to acknowledge any misunderstanding it may have caused. She wanted to be transparent, the source said of Kate, who has only been seen in public a handful of times since undergoing abdominal surgery in January.

According to the source, the intention with the photo was to thank the public for their support during her recovery and provide a lovely picture of the children. A second source noted that the trolling and criticism after her abdominal surgery had gone a bit too far and the statement from the Princess of Wales should now allow people to move on.

ET later learned that Kensington Palace had no plans to reissue the original unedited portrait. The edited portrait, however, would eventually get a warning label as "misleading" from Instagram. And the fallout continued, when Phil Chetwynd, the global news director at Agence France-Presse, recently told BBC Radio that Buckingham Palace is "absolutely" no longer a trusted source after "clearly violating" the agency's journalistic ethics.

The Car Photo 

Prince William and Kate Middleton photographed together on March 11. - GoffPhotos

The Photoshop controversy was far from over. After the portrait was pulled, Kate and William were photographed together in their car on March 11 on their way to a private appointment.

After the photo made the rounds, online sleuths conjured up another potential controversy when they noted the difference in the color of the brick wall behind the car.

But crisis was averted, when the photo agency that took the photo of William and Kate in their car told ET that while the "image has been cropped and lightened, nothing has been doctored."

On March 14, William visited a facility called "West -- or "Where Everyone Sticks Together" -- in London to speak with a group of youngsters about their phone usage and engage in a handful of fun, non-screen related activities. While working on icing a cookie, William made a subtle reference to his wife.

"My wife is the arty one," he confessed. "And my children. My children are more arty than I am."  

Spotted Shopping

Less than two weeks away from Easter, Kate was reportedly spotted with Prince William at a farm shop not far from their Windsor home. "Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well," an eyewitness told The Sun. As for when fans can expect Kate to make her first official public appearance since the surgery, the palace previously said that Kate "is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter," which comes on March 31. 

Debunking Conspiracy Theories

Kate's public outing with Prince William around the Windsor Farm Shop did very little to dial down the fever-pitch controversy that's engulfed the royal couple and Buckingham Palace. And the conspiracy theories have gotten so out of hand that at least one royal expert was compelled to say there's no Kate body double running around amid swirling speculation of her whereabouts.

ET's Nischelle Turner spoke with CBS News royal contributor Amanda Foreman, who weighed in on the farm shop photo. The Princess of Wales was spotted with William a mile from their Windsor home, as seen in video footage obtained by TMZ.

Kate appeared to be smiling and happy as they enjoyed the romantic stroll. But while, for some, that video put wild speculation of her whereabouts to rest, others were just not convinced. In fact, some have resorted to wondering if that truly was Kate walking alongside William.

"Well, it is obviously Kate," Foreman says. "There's no doubt about that. There's no body double running around here."

"The conspiracy theories are getting a huge lift because, first of all, Kate and William were being secretive," Foreman explains. "And then the photograph made them look manipulative. So, you put those two together, and that's like the ingredients for an explosion of conspiracy theories."

And, yes, to be clear -- Kate does not have a body double.

"I am absolutely 100 percent clear that it is not a body double for that to happen," Foreman says in the affirmative. "You would have to have a revolution in Kensington Palace, and that everybody who works there would have to be working two completely different practices."

Kate's Lookalike Speaks Out

Heidi Agan, a British woman known for her resemblance to Kate Middleton, has found herself in the news lately. In the wake of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Princess of Wales, ET spoke to Agan. Again denied it was her in the farm shop video.

"Just the online stuff is, wow! People go crazy online and to experience that firsthand is disconcerting," Agan said.

"I'm not employed by Kensington Palace," she also said. "I'm self-employed, and I just go to fun parties and corporate events and things like that. Nothing as serious as actually impersonating her for her."

Possible Health Records Breach

British police were asked to look into a potential breach of Kate's health records in the wake of the ongoing speculation surrounding the Princess of Wales' condition and whereabouts, a British health minister claims. 

On March 19, British outlet The Mirror reported that The London Clinic, where Kate was treated in January for a "planned abdominal surgery," has launched an investigation over claims staff tried to access her private medical records. 

The Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's data watchdog, released a statement, confirming that they are looking into this. 

"We can confirm that we have received a breach report and are assessing the information provided," the ICO shared. 

Kate Diagnosed With Cancer 

The Princess of Wales spoke out for the first time since her planned abdominal surgery on March 22, revealing to the world she's battling cancer

Kate explained that when she underwent abdominal surgery, at the time, it was thought that her condition was non-cancerous. But tests after the operation "found cancer had been present."

Kate did not reveal what kind of cancer she's battling, only that she's currently undergoing "preventative chemotherapy" and is "now in the early stages of that treatment."

"This of course came as a huge shock. And William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family," she added. "As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louie in a way that's appropriate for them and to reassure them that I'm going to be OK. As I said to them, I am well, and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal. In my mind, body and spirits. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort."

Following the devastating news, a source told ET that Kate filmed the video on March 20, and she started receiving cancer treatment shortly after her surgery in January. 

William and Kate struggled to tell their children, the source explained, because they wanted to shield them as much as possible. 

"Children process information in different ways. Their primary concern was to be able to explain this to the children in a way that was reassuring, and they could process," the source said.

And despite all erroneous speculation on social media, a source says that William has been at Kate's side and his primary goal in all of this has been to support his wife and his children.

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