Kate Middleton’s New Normal Post-Cancer Diagnosis May Mean “She May Never Come Back In the Role That People Saw Her In Before”

Her role may look markedly different when she makes her return to public life—whenever that may be.

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As Princess Kate continues to receive treatment for a publicly undisclosed type of cancer, the date of her return to public duty remains ambiguous—some say it will be this fall, with some speculating it could be as far out as 2025. “We have been really clear that [Kate] needs the space and the privacy to recover right now,” Kensington Palace said recently. “She will return to work when she has had the green light from doctors.”

Kate Middleton

Kate's exact return date to public life remains unknown as she continues to receive treatment for cancer.

(Image credit: Getty)

But when Kate does come back—whenever that may be—sources speaking to Us Weekly say that her return will likely look differently than her role was before 2024 and the health challenges that have presented themselves this year. After all, let’s face it—cancer changes one’s life in a myriad of ways, and once you’ve experienced a health crisis like this, it’s difficult to ever fully return to the person you were before, for better or worse. A source speaking to Us Weekly said that Kate’s team is “reevaluating what she’s going to be able to take on when she comes back," and noted “She may never come back in the role that people saw her in before.”

Kate Middleton

We should potentially prepare for Kate's eventual return to look different than what we're used to, sources say.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The good news? Kate seems to be responding to treatment, and she has turned a corner within the past month. “Kate’s feeling strong enough to be very involved with the kids,” a source said in Us Weekly, adding that she’s been spotted running errands both with family members and by herself in recent weeks. “She’s been an active parent.”

Of her recovery, it “is going well,” they said. “She’s not able to see many people because she is susceptible to getting sick, and they don’t want her compromised, but she’s up and about.”

In what continues to be a tumultuous year, the royal family has significantly scaled back engagements in light of the upcoming July 4 general election in the U.K., giving Kate’s husband Prince William more time at home with Kate and the kids, who will soon be off of school at Lambrook for half-term break. “The announcement that the royals won’t be able to work as much has been unexpected, but it will allow Kate and William to spend more time together,” they said. “They’ve been reconnecting and are closer than ever.”

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis

A silver lining to 2024? More time spent with her husband and kids, especially at their country home, Anmer Hall.

(Image credit: Getty/The Prince and Princess of Wales/Matt Porteous)

When able, the Wales family of five has been mainly staying at Anmer Hall, their country home in Norfolk on the Sandringham estate—a 10-bedroom home complete with a swimming pool, tennis court, and ample space for Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis to run and play. “They’re spending a lot of time as a family there,” they said and, as the three kids will soon be off of school, “they have lots of fun things” planned. Kate, for her part, has kept busy cooking and baking, two of her favorite pastimes. 

Outside of their immediate family of five, Kate’s mother, Carole Middleton, and younger sister, Pippa Middleton Matthews, “are a constant presence,” they said. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said of the Middletons—which also includes Kate’s father, Michael, and younger brother, James—that they “have always been very close,” Fitzwilliams said. “The royal family has to be terribly careful about [who they let in], but Kate knows who to trust.”

Carole and Pippa Middleton attend Wimbledon in 2019

Kate's mother, Carole, and younger sister, Pippa, remain close to the Princess of Wales.

(Image credit: Getty)

Kate has some time to reflect on what her role as a working royal will look like before her eventual return, whenever that may be. By the fall, Fitzwilliams said, “I hope [by then we] would have heard when it is appropriate from Kensington Palace, because lessons should’ve been learned from what happened earlier,” he said, referring to the conspiracy theories that ran rampant before Kate’s March 22 video message announcing her diagnosis. “If you’re not told at all, and months pass, there’s clearly speculation, and that could happen again. So I’m sure that it will be handled differently.”

When Kate does return, “it will be [based] on medical advice, and it will be very carefully balanced,” Fitzwilliams said, adding that Kate’s battle with cancer is “obviously tremendously draining.”

Kate Middleton

What matters most is that Kate is prioritizing her health through this difficult season.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Though no one outside of Kate’s inner circle—and who knows, maybe not even Kate herself at this point—knows what the Princess of Wales’ new normal looks like as far as being a working royal, we should likely prepare for it to be different, even slightly, from the Kate in the public eye we knew before 2024 happened: “Her role may look very different,” they said. “She’s looking at what it will shape into.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.