Where’s Kate Middleton? The internet wants answers on the Princess of Wales

Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has become the latest subject of online conspiracy theories as people on social media continue to speculate over why they think she’s been away from the public eye. 

Kensington Palace has said Kate is recovering from a planned abdominal surgery. It said Jan. 17 that the 42-year-old would be taking a step back from public duties until after Easter following the procedure. 

Catherine, Princess of Wales
Catherine, Princess of Wales, talks to people during her visit to Sebby’s Corner in Barnet, England, on Nov. 24.Frank Augstein / WPA Pool via Getty Images file

But after Prince William, heir to the British throne, pulled out of a memorial service for his godfather because of a “personal matter” this week, Kate’s name began trending on X, where a flurry of memes, jokes and baseless theories populated the platform. Hundreds of people have also commented on a Reddit thread titled: What is going on with Kate Middleton?

Elizabeth Holmes, a royal expert and author, said the “absurdity” of the social media theorizing was heightened by William’s absence at the event.

“There are certainly people who are genuinely worried about Kate, but the social media storm was unfair,” said Holmes, who wrote “HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.” “This woman just had major surgery and is recovering within the 10-week recovery timeline the palace originally provided.”

The palace Tuesday said that the Princess of Wales continues to do well but declined to elaborate. That appeared to only fuel more speculation Wednesday. 

Many began circulating images of when Kate reportedly was last photographed by British tabloids on Christmas Day.

There were also those who quickly began posting memes. 

Some joked Kate could be recovering from a cosmetic procedure known as a BBL, where fat is transferred from the stomach and thighs to the buttocks. 

Other people suggested that Kate may secretly be performing on “The Masked Singer,” a Fox reality show that which features mystery celebrities singing in costumes and masks, or “Celebrity Big Brother.” 

Many also leaned into the internet frenzy surrounding the chaotic Willy Wonka-inspired experience in Glasgow, Scotland, by photoshopping images of Kate there.

There have been no reports suggesting that any of these conspiracies are remotely true.

The boundaries between senior royals’ lives as taxpayer-funded public figures and individuals with private lives have been recurring topics of debate.

William’s mother, Princess Diana, died in a 1997 car accident while attempting to evade paparazzi in Paris. His younger brother, Harry, and his wife, Meghan, stepped back from official royal duties in 2020 after the couple was subjected to intense media scrutiny.

Most recently, the princes’ father, King Charles III, made headlines with his cancer diagnosis. Charles has canceled public engagements while he receives treatment.

Both Kate and Charles’ recent health matters have continued to ignite conversation about transparency surrounding the royal family’s medical information.

“The royal family considers health concerns to be a private matter,” Holmes said. “If information is shared, it is usually intentionally vague or shared after the fact. I think that vagueness hurt them here.”

A spokesperson for Kate on Thursday reiterated that she is “doing well.”

“Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates. That guidance stands.”

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