Royal Author Pulls No Punches on How the Palace Has Handled Princess Kate’s Health Issues: “From the Get-Go, It Was Very Fishy”

“It’s amazing to me that the Palace can be so tone deaf about this.”

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty)

We saw the Princess of Wales appear publicly for the first time since Christmas Day on Monday, riding alongside her mother, Carole Middleton, in what was later determined to be the school run of Kate’s kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis to Lambrook School, where all three attend. Was this sighting—which conspicuously came on the heels of fervent clamor over Kate’s whereabouts—intentional? Royal expert Christopher Andersen doesn’t think so, actually.

“I’ve been asked if [those photos were] staged by the Palace to assuage people’s fears and get rid of all the conspiracy theories that have been swirling around the royal family lately,” Andersen said, speaking to Us Weekly. “And I think it’s quite the opposite. I think if you look at the expression on her face, she was caught unawares and unhappy.” 

Andersen added, “It’s amazing to me that the Palace can be so tone deaf about this, not only in the handling of Catherine, but also in the handling of [King Charles] and his medical situation, which is in tandem with this.”

Duchess of Cambridge 2015

Was Kate's sighting on Monday planned by the Palace? Andersen doesn't think so

(Image credit: Getty Images)

(This is not breaking news, but) In January, it was announced within 90 minutes of each other that Kate had abdominal surgery and would be sidelined from royal duties until April, and that the King would have what was at the time a benign enlarged prostate corrected during a planned procedure. It was during that procedure that cancer was detected, and Charles began treatment on February 5. Both the King and the Princess of Wales have been largely out of the spotlight since, Kate much more so, only being seen one time in 70 days, on the car ride with her mother.

“From the get-go, it was very fishy,” Andersen said of Kate’s recovery period. “You can have open heart surgery and be out in a week. And then months under wraps—what’s going on?”

King Charles, Queen Camilla, the Prince and Princess of Wales

The King and the Princess of Wales have both experienced serious health issues in 2024

(Image credit: Getty)

Andersen is reluctant to point the finger at the royal family members themselves (think Charles, Kate) but rather the Firm: “I don’t know if it’s the royal family I’d blame for this mess,” he said. “That would be the Palace.”

As the weeks go on, Andersen said he thinks updates from royal spokespeople are just making matters “worse and worse” for the royal family. “The last statement they issued was basically rapping everyone on the knuckles for daring to question them [and] didn’t explain anything,” he said. “And yes, they said from the beginning she’d be out of commission, but never why, and I don’t think that’s acceptable, frankly.”

Andersen added that “the British people have a right to know” what’s going on with the princess. “I think they [the Palace] could be a lot more forthright about what her condition was, what the surgery was for, and why she has to be recuperating for such a lengthy period,” he said. “They could have carted her out a couple of times and had her stand on the steps of the Palace or in Windsor or wherever and smile for the cameras and just be her charming self. And I think that would remedy the situation to some extent.”

Kate Middleton at Wimbledon in a mint green blazer

Andersen thinks the Palace has handled Kate's health scare poorly

(Image credit: Getty)

Royal commentator Hugo Vickers, speaking on GB News (and per OK) agreed that the Palace probably isn’t handling the situation as well as it could be handled. “If I was her press secretary, I would be wanting to tell you something,” he said. “Maybe some really good news when she’s getting better. I don’t know whether it would have been a good idea to have a picture of her sitting in the garden with her children or something.”

That said, although Vickers urged the Palace to let the British people know more about Kate’s condition, he also stressed that the decision by the Firm as to how much to release isn’t that easy. “It’s a [terribly] complicated balance,” Vickers said. “If you feed the media enough, usually they will respect the boundaries. But if you tell them nothing at all, of course they think they’re being deprived of information, and they go into overdrive.”

The Princess Of Wales Delivers Keynote Speech At The Shaping Us National Symposium

Kate's return to duty isn't expected until at least April

(Image credit: Getty)

Fellow royal expert Katie Nicholl added on GB News that Kate is in “no rush” to return to work, and that the Princess of Wales could “talk about her health one day,” but for now is focused on “getting better for her family and for the duties that lie ahead of her.”

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.