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As a frenzy of speculation grips Britain’s royal family, a look at recent events that have fueled rumors

Britain's Kate, Princess of Wales, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, William, the Prince of Wales, Prince Louis, and Mia Tindall arrived to attend the Christmas day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham in Norfolk, England, on Dec. 25, 2023.Kin Cheung/Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — 2024 hasn’t been a good year for Britain’s royals so far.

First came the “royal health shock” headlines when palace officials announced that King Charles III and Kate, the Princess of Wales, both had health troubles. An absence of information about Kate's health and whereabouts then fueled an increasingly frenzied rumor mill that made its way from the fringes of social media to frontpages around the world.

Distrust of the monarchy only intensified after Kate admitted that she edited an official family photo, and palace officials have struggled to regain control of the narrative as conjecture and conspiracy theories persist.


Here is a timeline of recent events relating to the royal family:

Dec. 25, 2023

Kate attends Christmas service at Sandringham, the royal estate on the eastern English coast, alongside Prince William, their children and other members of the royal family. This is the princess’s last public appearance.

Jan. 16, 2024

Kate, 42, is admitted to the London Clinic and undergoes abdominal surgery. The news isn’t announced until the next day.

Jan. 17

Kensington Palace reveals that Kate is recovering from a planned operation. Officials say her condition isn’t cancer-related but did not specify what surgery it was, only saying it was successful. They say she will remain in the private hospital for 10-14 days and be away from public view until after Easter.

Buckingham Palace announces on the same day that King Charles will be treated for a benign enlarged prostate.

Jan. 21

Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, says she has malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Jan. 26

King Charles is admitted to a London hospital for a three-day stay for his prostate treatment.

Jan. 29

Kate and Charles are both discharged from the hospital. Charles is photographed leaving the hospital with Camilla and waving at well-wishers. Kate is not pictured leaving the hospital, but officials say she is “making good progress” and will continue her recovery at home.


Feb. 5

Buckingham Palace announces that Charles has cancer and will receive treatment. Officials did not say what form of cancer the king has.

Feb. 7

Prince Harry arrives in the U.K. from California to visit his father. He departs the next day.

Feb. 27

William pulls out of a memorial service for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, at the last minute, due to a “personal matter.” The palace declined to elaborate but said Kate continues to do well.

Later on the same day, Buckingham Palace says Thomas Kingston, the son-in-law of Prince Michael of Kent, has died at the age of 45. Prince Michael is a cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

March 1

An inquest hears that Thomas Kingston died from a “traumatic head wound” on Feb. 25. A gun was found near his body at his parents’ home.

March 4

A photo reportedly showing Kate riding in a car with her mother Carole Middleton in Windsor circulates on social media. It is published by some international news outlets but not in any of Britain’s newspapers.

March 6

People magazine cites a royal spokesman as saying that William’s “focus is on his work and not on social media.”

March 10

Kensington Palace releases a photo of Kate surrounded by her three children to mark Mother’s Day in Britain. The photo, the first official one since the princess underwent surgery, was retracted hours later by The Associated Press and other news agencies over concerns it had been digitally manipulated.


March 11

Amid a new round of speculation about her health sparked by the edited family photo, Kate issues an apology on social media for the “confusion” caused. She says she “occasionally experiments with editing” like many amateur photographers.

March 16

The Sun newspaper publishes a video reportedly showing a smiling and relaxed Kate shopping with William at a farm shop near their Windsor home.

March 20

The Information Commissioner’s Office says it is investigating a report that at least one member of staff at the London Clinic tried to snoop on Kate’s medical records while she was a patient at the hospital.