Princess Kate’s Return to Public Duty Could Be Delayed Until This Autumn, As the “Only Thing That Matters at the Moment Is Her Getting Better”

“She has been through an ordeal this year.”

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When the Princess of Wales bravely announced her cancer diagnosis in a video shared worldwide on March 22, she asked for “time, space, and privacy,” and added of her royal duty that “My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy, and I look forward to being back when I am able—but for now, I must focus on making a full recovery.” 

Kate Middleton

We may not see Kate publicly for many more months, friends say.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Earlier this week, a report was issued about her early years work that Kate was “excited” about—a 60-page report outlining how the U.K. business community can benefit from focusing efforts on children five years old and younger—and, though Kate was kept abreast of the work as it was going on, it doesn’t signal a return to work for her anytime soon. As The Daily Mail’s Richard Eden reported after speaking to some of Kate’s friends, it’s likely we won’t see Kate back on royal duty until the fall, “and only then if she has recovered fully,” Eden wrote, adding it is focusing on a full recovery “which continues to take priority.”

Kate’s last public duty was attending the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham five months ago; she underwent a planned abdominal surgery in January, during which cancer was detected. Kate reportedly found out about her diagnosis in late February, and on March 22 announced globally that she was receiving treatment for a publicly undisclosed type of cancer. Since that March 22 announcement, she has been all but completely out of the public eye.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

William and Kate's search for a CEO has been put on pause in light of Kate's health scare.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Though some of Kate’s work continues on, some of it has been put on pause, like she and her husband Prince William’s search for a CEO to run their joint office as the Prince and Princess of Wales and be responsible for about 60 staff members. The role is significant because, as Eden put it, “The new boss would report directly to the royal couple and—notably—would not answer to the private secretaries who have long held power behind the scenes at the royal palaces.”

When the announcement was made of this future appointment last year, a source told Eden “a little excitedly” that “This is a revolutionary move. They are overthrowing the traditional, hierarchical structure in which staff answer to private secretaries.” Kensington Palace hired a high-powered recruitment firm, Odgers Berndtson, to find the best candidate, “and an advertisement was placed online which stressed the unprecedented nature of the position,” Eden wrote.

But, in light of Kate’s health scare, “the search for a CEO has now been suspended,” he continued. A Palace spokesperson further added “With everything going on, the Royal Household’s focus is on the Princess’ recovery, so no appointment has been made.” To this, Eden added “the postponement of such a key appointment shows big decisions must wait until Catherine is recovered.”

The Princess of Wales, clad in a bright pink suit, visits the Foundling Museum on May 25

Though Kate is working some behind the scenes, her recovery is the focus.

(Image credit: Getty)

A source speaking to Eden said “No one wants to put any pressure on Catherine. The only thing that matters at the moment is her getting better. She has been through an ordeal this year.” They added, “What this means in practice is that big decisions, such as the appointment of new staff, can wait.”

And we might be waiting for a while, as autumn is being floated as her return time—but if, and only if, she is recovered. “It’s a reflection of Her Royal Highness’ importance to the future of the monarchy that she has been given as much time as she needs,” a source said. 

Kate Middleton

Because Kate isn't expected back to work until the fall at the earliest, she will miss all of summer's events, like Trooping the Colour, a Japanese state visit, Royal Ascot, and more.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Though some have been confused as to why King Charles—who is also receiving treatment for cancer—has returned to public duty but Kate has not, a source speaking to Eden clarified, saying “As Sovereign, His Majesty is in a very different position from the Princess of Wales,” they said. “There is no need for her to be seen while she’s recovering.”

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.