Kate Middleton: A timeline of her cancer diagnosis, surgery and absence from public duties

The 42-year-old princess underwent abdominal surgery in January.

ByKatie Kindelan GMA logo
Friday, March 22, 2024
ABC News report on Kate Middleton cancer diagnosis announcement
Catherine, the Princess of Wales, formerly Kate Middleton, was diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, she said in a video on Friday.

LONDON -- Kate, the Princess of Wales, announced she was diagnosed with cancer.

Kate, the 42-year-old wife of Prince William and mother of their three children, announced her diagnosis Friday after weeks of speculation about her health and well-being.

Since January, Kate has undergone abdominal surgery, taken time off from public duties and endured a photo editing controversy.

Here is a look at the timeline of events, dating back to Kate's last official public appearance.

March 22, 2024: Kate publicly reveals cancer diagnosis

Kate shared in a video statement that after undergoing abdominal surgery, tests showed "cancer had been present."

"In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful," Kate said. "However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. 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."

Catherine, Princess of Wales, was diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, she said in a video message released on Friday.

Describing the impact on William and their three children, Princes George and Louis and Charlotte, Kate continued, "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."

March 20, 2024: Hospital staffers reportedly investigated for trying to access Kate's records

Staff at the London Clinic, where Kate underwent surgery, are reportedly suspected of trying to access her private medical records.

The UK's independent regulator for Data Protection and Freedom of Information confirmed it had received a breach report and are assessing.

The investigation has reportedly expanded to three staffers at the clinic, according to ITV News.

The Information Commissioner's Office, the U.K. privacy and data protection watchdog, confirmed to ABC News it had received a security breach report involving the London Clinic, a London hospital known for treating high-profile people, including other members of the royal family.

"We can confirm that we have received a breach report and are assessing the information provided," an IOC spokesperson said in a statement.

Al Russell, CEO of the London Clinic, said in a statement, in part, "We have systems in place to monitor management of patient information and, in the case of any breach, all appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken. There is no place at our hospital for those who intentionally breach the trust of any of our patients or colleagues."

Kensington Palace declined to comment on the reported security breach, telling ABC News, "This is a matter for the London Clinic."

March 19, 2024: Photo agency issues editing notice on 2nd royal family photo

Getty Images added an editor's note on a photo that was taken by Kate in 2022 of the late Queen Elizabeth II and some of her great-grandchildren.

Last April, Kensington Palace shared the photo on the social media accounts of Kate and William to mark what would have been the queen's 97th birthday.

Credit for the photo was given to Kate.

Getty Images added an editor's note to this photo of Queen Elizabeth II which was released by Kensington Palace in 2023, saying the photo has "been digitally enhanced at source."
The Prince and Princess of Wales/X

In its editor's note, Getty Images says the photo "has been digitally enhanced at source."

The palace has not commented on the addition of the editor's note to Kate's photo of the late queen.

March 16, 2024: Kate spotted at farm shop with William

Kate was seen looking "happy, relaxed and healthy" on a visit to a local farm shop with William near their home in Windsor, England, on Saturday, according to the U.K.'s The Sun newspaper.

A video of Kate and William at the farm shop, obtained by TMZ and shared on March 18, is the first video footage the public had seen of Kate since she was hospitalized.

Earlier in the day Saturday, William and Kate reportedly watched their three children play sports, according to The Sun.

March 14, 2024: News agency says Kensington Palace is no longer a trusted source

Phil Chetwynd, global news director at Agence France-Presse, said in an interview with BBC Radio that Kensington Palace is no longer considered a trusted source after the photo editing controversy.

"No, absolutely not," Chetwynd said. "Like with anything, when you're let down by a source, the bar is raised."

Chetwynd added that news agencies around the world called a meeting to address the issue once they realized the photo shared by the palace of Kate and her children "clearly violated" their rules, leading them to issue a "kill notice" to publishers around the world.

According to Chetwynd, issuing a "kill notice" for a photograph based on manipulation is a very rare occurrence.

"And we've got, you know, major issues internally as to how we validate that photo. We shouldn't have done it," he said. "It violated our guidelines and, therefore, you know, we sent out notes to all our team at the moment to be absolutely super more vigilant about the content coming across our desk, even from what we would call trusted sources."

March 11, 2024: Kate issues public apology over photo

Kate acknowledged in a public apology that her Mother's Day photo was edited and apologized for any "confusion" those alterations caused.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," she said in a statement 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."

Kate again signed her message "C."

Kensington Palace said it would not be reissuing the original unedited photograph of Kate and her children.

Later on March 11, Kate was photographed sitting next to William in a chauffeured car.

William attended two public engagements that day, a Commonwealth Day service and an Earthshot Prize event, and did not comment on Kate or the photo controversy.

March 10, 2024: Photo agencies retract Kate's photo

The photo of Kate and her kids was picked up by several international news agencies, including The Associated Press, Reuters, Getty Images and Agence France-Presse.

Those agencies later retracted the image, saying it may have been edited by the royals prior to its release.

The British royal family is facing new questions about a doctored photo of Princess Kate and her children.

The Associated Press said it appeared "the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet AP's photo standards."

PA Media Group, a news agency in the United Kingdom, also retracted the image.

Hany Farid, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told ABC News his analysis of the photo shows "relatively minor photo manipulation."

"If you look at the sleeve of the girl on the right, you see what looks like traces of manipulation," Farid said, referring to the sleeve of Charlotte's sweater. "I think most likely it is either some bad photoshop to, for example, remove a stain on the sweater, or is the result of on-camera photo compositing that combines multiple photos together to get a photo where everyone is smiling. For the latter, if the subjects move between successive images, it can cause this type of ghosting."

Farid continued, "Either way, I think it is unlikely that this is anything more than a relatively minor photo manipulation. In addition, there is no evidence that this image is entirely AI-generated."

March 10, 2024: Kate shares photo and message on Mother's Day

A photo from Kensington Palace of Princess Kate and Prince William has been retracted by several news agencies over concerns it was "manipulated."

Kate marked Mother's Day in the U.K., March 10, by sharing a photo on X of herself smiling and surrounded by her three kids. The image was the first official photo of Kate the public had seen since December.

"Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day," Kate wrote in the post, which was signed "C," a nod to her full name, Catherine.

The post credited William as the photographer.

March 6, 2024: Palace issues William's response to online speculation about Kate

Amid the speculation around Kate's well-being, a palace spokesperson issued a brief statement to People magazine.

The spokesperson said of William, "His focus is on his work and not on social media."

March 4, 2024: Kate is photographed in a car with her mom

Kate was seen for the first time since December when she was photographed riding in a car driven by her mom on March 4.

Kate and her mom Carole Middleton were photographed in Windsor, England, where Kate and her family live.

The photograph was not released or authorized by Kensington Palace.

Feb. 29, 2024: Palace spokesperson shares update on Kate

Amid a growing amount of online speculation about Kate's health, a palace spokesperson told ABC News on Feb. 29, that Kate was "doing well" as she continued to recover.

The spokesperson also brushed off online speculation, telling ABC News in a statement, "Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess' recovery and we'd only be providing significant updates. That guidance stands."

The comment on Kate was the first one shared by the palace since late January, when Kate was discharged from the hospital.

Feb. 27, 2024: William misses royal engagement due to 'personal matter'

Online speculation about Kate's well-being reached a fever pitch in late February, when William had to drop out of a royal engagement due to what the palace said was a "personal matter."

On Feb. 27, William missed the service of Thanksgiving for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, at St. George's Chapel.

ABC News confirmed at the time that the personal matter was not related to Charles' health.

"Unfortunately, The Prince of Wales is no longer able to attend the King Constantine Memorial Service this morning due to a personal matter," the palace said in a statement at the time, declining to share further details.

Feb. 18, 2024: William attends the BAFTA Awards without Kate

As William resumed his public duties, he arrived solo at the 2024 BAFTA Awards, one of the most high-profile events Kate has traditionally attended with her husband each year.

This year, William, who serves as president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, walked the red carpet and attended the awards show on his own.

Feb. 7, 2024: William resumes public duties

William returned to his public duties for the first time following Kate's surgery and made his first public comments about Kate.

Earlier in the day on Feb. 7, William led an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, stepping in for his father, King Charles III, whose cancer diagnosis had been publicly shared just two days prior, on Feb. 5.

In the evening, William attended a fundraising gala alongside Tom Cruise for London's Air Ambulance Charity, where he spoke about both Charles and Kate.

"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. "It means a great deal to us all."

Following up with a joke, he added, "It's fair to say the past few weeks have had a rather 'medical' focus. So, I thought I'd come to an air ambulance function to get away from it all."

Jan. 29, 2024: Kate is discharged from the hospital

On Jan. 29, Kensington Palace shared an update, stating that Kate had been discharged from the hospital.

"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 spokesperson added, "The Wales family continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world."

Jan. 18, 2024: William is photographed leaving the hospital

William was photographed driving himself away from the London Clinic, presumably after a private visit with Kate.

The couple's three children were not believed to have visited Kate in the hospital during her stay.

Jan. 17, 2024: Kate has 'successful' surgery, Kensington Palace reveals

The day after Kate was admitted to the hospital, the palace issued a public statement announcing that Kate had been hospitalized on Jan. 16, for "planned abdominal surgery."

The palace said the surgery was "successful," and that Kate was expected to remain hospitalized for 10 to 14 days before returning to the family's home to recover. The palace did not provide further details on the type of surgery Kate underwent but confirmed to ABC News that the princess's medical issue was non-cancerous.

At the time, the palace noted that Kate would likely not resume her public duties "until after Easter."

"The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate," the palace said. "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."

"The Princess of Wales wishes to apologise to all those concerned for the fact that she has to postpone her upcoming engagements," the statement continued. "She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible."

The palace also said that William would temporarily postpone his engagements to help care for Kate and their kids as she recovered.

Jan. 16, 2024: Kate is admitted to a London hospital

Kate was admitted to the London Clinic on Jan. 16, according to a statement issued by Kensington Palace the next day.

Dec. 25, 2023: Kate makes her last official public appearance

Kate joined members of the royal family as they walked to church at Sandringham on Christmas morning, following royal tradition.

Kate, dressed in blue, was seen smiling and talking to onlookers as she and William walked hand in hand with George, Charlotte and Louis at the royal family's estate in Norfolk, England.

ABC News' Kevin Shalvey and Zoe Magee contributed to this report.