Kate Middleton: A timeline of her disappearance, diagnosis

For weeks, the internet speculated about Kate Middleton’s "disappearance" after she had been largely missing from the public eye since Christmas day. 

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for Kensington Palace, which handles the household for the prince and princess of Wales, told Fox News Digital: "Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates. The guidance in January stood that the Princess would be recuperating at home in Windsor."

The spokesperson reiterated the princess was "doing well."

READ MORE: Where is Kate Middleton? The internet has theories

Despite this, a flurry of theories emerged on sites like X, formerly known as Twitter, and TikTok, with users speculating about the royal's whereabouts and her health condition. 

Catherine, Princess of Wales, arrives at the Shaping Us National Symposium at the Design Museum on November 15, 2023 in London, England. (Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Search terms like "Kate Middleton’s health" and "Where is Kate Middleton?" spiked over the last several weeks.

Here is a timeline looking back at what’s been announced about her health, and how the lack of information convinced the internet that Kate had disappeared.

March 22, 2024: Kate Middleton announces cancer diagnosis 

On Friday, March 22, Kate announced that she had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy.

"In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London, and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous," she said in a video. "The surgery was successful; however, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team, therefore, advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy, and I am now in the early stages of that treatment."

Kate continued, "This, of course, came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing absolutely everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time; It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louie, in a way that’s appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK."

She thanked the public for their love and support but asked for space and privacy while she completes her treatment. 

Earlier in the day, TMZ broke news that Kate would be making a major announcement regarding her health.

March 18, 2024: TMZ obtains video of Kate at farm

TMZ obtained a clip that was taken of Kate on Saturday while she and William were visiting the shop, where The Sun reported eyewitnesses saw them out and about over the weekend.

One of the eyewitnesses who saw them, Nelson Silva, told the news outlet, "I noticed a couple choosing loaves of bread and the woman turned her face and I felt like I had seen the face before. It was familiar. I knew it from somewhere."

He continued, "Kate looked happy and relaxed. They look happy just to be able to go to a shop and mingle. Kate looked relieved like it was a success going to a shop. It felt natural."

TMZ said it looked into the video's metadata, which revealed it was filmed on Saturday right near the prince and princess of Wales' home in Windsor.

However, skeptics on the internet were still convinced that the video was manipulated and fake, with many social media users describing the video as "blurry." 

"That ain't Kate….," celebrity Andy Cohen wrote on X.

March 17, 2024: Kate reportedly spotted at farm with William

The Sun reported an eyewitness at Windsor Farm Shop told them they saw the prince and princess of Wales, William and Kate, there shopping on Sunday, March 17. 

The shops are a mile from their Adelaide Cottage home in Windsor, The Sun said, and referred to them as "her favorite farm shop."

RELATED: Kate Middleton reportedly seen out shopping with prince as rumors intensify

The Sun reported the witness said: "After all the rumours that had been going round I was stunned to see them there. Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well."

The kids were not seen with them and no photographs were published.

March 16, 2024: Royal announcement & BBC

News of a "palace announcement" began trending over the weekend, specifically that the BBC had been told to be on alert for an imminent announcement from the royal family.

The rumor grew and began to spread specifically on X, formerly known as Twitter, though no evidence supported the claim.

On March 18, X then circulated a community note that "the source claiming that BBC Events has been told to prepare for ‘an extremely important royal announcement’ is a false rumor."

X said the claim originated from the Instagram page "popapologists."

March 12, 2024: Metadata reveals Mother’s Day photo was altered

Metadata from Kate Middleton's Mother's Day family photo revealed the image had been digitally altered multiple times before it was published on the official royal social media platforms, Fox News Digital confirmed.

Information included in the photo data showed timestamps indicating the photo was first edited at 9:54 p.m. on Friday, March 8, in Photoshop. On March 9, the image was altered once again at 9:39 a.m.

The data does not indicate who exactly altered the image, although Kate issued an apology for the confusion surrounding "editing" the family photo.

"We don't have anything to add," the palace confirmed to Fox News Digital when asked for comments about the digitally altered photo.

March 11, 2024: Kate issues apology over photo

Kate apologized about the Mother’s Day photo and admitted that the image shared online had been edited.

The 42-year-old future queen took to social media to issue a statement, writing, "Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused."

She continued: "I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day."

The royal also reportedly told "This Morning" that she was an "amateur photographer" who was "learning along the way."

RELATED: Kate Middleton photo released in Mother’s Day post draws more speculation

"One of the fantastic things about photography is really capturing that moment so it is not staged setting, it is not setting it out perfectly, it's not clearing your house away so you've got a perfect studio set-up, but it's really capturing those moments that feel real to you and that capture the moment or an expression or a feeling I suppose," Kate reportedly said.

Some people on social media were quick to deny that Kate ever wrote the statement about the edited photo.

William continued royal duties with Queen Camilla and other members of the royal family at the 75th annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey on Monday, but he did not make a mention of the photo.

March 10, 2024: Photo agencies retract Kate's photo

The Associated Press initially published the photo, which was issued by Kensington Palace. But AP later retracted the image because they said upon further inspection it appeared the source had manipulated the image in a way that did not meet their photo standards. 

The AP said the photo showed an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.

Getty Images, Reuters, and AFP also reportedly removed the photo from their libraries. 

March 10, 2024: Kate shares photo, message on Mother's Day

A photo of Kate was posted on the official Instagram account she shares with her husband.

The 42-year-old is shown seated outdoors, smiling and surrounded by their three children. Sunday, March 10, was Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom. 

"Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. C," the post wrote, referring to the first initial of her full name, Catherine. The Palace said the photo was taken by William the previous week in Windsor.

The photo was the first one released publicly of Kate since she had abdominal surgery in January

March 4, 2024: Kate is photographed in a car with mother

Kate was photographed riding in a car, driven by her mom on March 4 – the first reported photo of her since Christmas.

TMZ published the photograph, which was not released or authorized by Kensington Palace due to the princess's privacy.

Later, some social media users were convinced that the photo was manipulated and not of her.

Feb. 27, 2024: William pulls out of memorial service for Godfather

In late February, William announced he could no longer attend a memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, due to personal reasons. 

This sparked major speculation and rumors about the princess's whereabouts. 

Feb. 5, 2024: King Charles announces cancer diagnosis

On Feb. 5, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III had been diagnosed with "a form of cancer" following his recent hospital procedure.

The 75-year-old monarch was undergoing treatment and had been advised by doctors "to postpone public-facing duties," the statement continued. 

"The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible," the palace said. 

The palace added that the king "has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer."

Jan. 29, 2024: Kate is discharged from the hospital

On Jan. 29, Kensington Palace shared an update, stating that Kate had been discharged from the hospital and returned home to Windsor.

"The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress," the palace said. "The Prince and Princess wish to say a huge thank you to the entire team at The London Clinic, especially the dedicated nursing staff, for the care they have provided."

The spokesperson added, "The Wales family continues to be grateful for the well wishes they have received from around the world."

There were no images of her leaving the hospital, which underscored her desire for privacy but also fueled social media claims about whether she ever left the hospital. 

Jan. 18, 2024: William is photographed leaving the hospital

William was photographed driving himself away from the London Clinic. The couple's three children were not believed to have visited Kate in the hospital during her stay.

Jan. 17, 2024: Kate has ‘successful’ surgery 

Kensington Palace said Kate would remain at The London Clinic for up to two weeks. The palace didn't offer further details, but confirmed that her surgery was "successful" and her condition was noncancerous. 

RELATED: Kate Middleton to be hospitalized after surgery, King Charles III having prostate treatment: Palace

Though she has generally experienced good health, Kate was previously hospitalized while pregnant after suffering from severe morning sickness.

The palace said that Kate wished to apologize for postponing her upcoming engagements.

"She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible," the palace said.

Jan. 16, 2024: Kate is admitted to a hospital for surgery

A few weeks later, on Jan. 16, Kate was admitted to The London Clinic. Kensington Palace announced that Kate Middleton underwent a "planned abdominal surgery" at the clinic.  Due to medical advice, she would not return to public duties until Easter.

The statement also asked for privacy: "The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate," a Kensington Palace representative wrote. "She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normalcy for her children as possible."

Moments after the announcement, Buckingham Palace revealed that King Charles III was seeking treatment for an enlarged prostate. They noted that the 75-year-old’s public engagements would "be postponed for a short period of recuperation."

Dec. 25, 2023: Kate makes last official public appearance on Christmas

Kate joined other members of the royal family at the family's annual church service at Sandringham on Christmas morning.

Kate was seen smiling and talking to onlookers as she and William walked together with George, Charlotte and Louis at the family’s estate in England.

Who is Kate Middleton?

A royal by choice — not birth — Kate is the daughter of a flight attendant and a flight dispatcher. Born in Reading, England, on Jan. 9, 1982, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton grew up with a younger sister, Pippa, and a younger brother, James.

The family is from a well-to-do area of Berkshire, west of London, and moved to Jordan when Kate was 2 years old because of her father’s work. They returned to England in 1986, and Kate attended the exclusive Marlborough College, where she was active in sports such as tennis.

She first met Prince William, the elder son of the late Princess Diana and Charles, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. FOX News, the Associated Press contributed.