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Princess Kate Middleton plays a central role in the royal family

As a princess, Catherine represents a modern royal family. Now, after weeks out of the public eye, the princess of Wales has reappeared in public to reveal a shock cancer diagnosis.

Deutsche Welle Published 25.03.24, 02:26 PM
The princess of Wales represents a modern royal family. Now she has reappeared to reveal a shock cancer diagnosis.

The princess of Wales represents a modern royal family. Now she has reappeared to reveal a shock cancer diagnosis. Deutsche Welle

The announcement in January 2024 that Princess Catherine — or Kate, as she is known to her fans — had to undergo serious abdominal surgery sparked great concern among followers of the royal family.

To recover from the operation, the princess of Wales retreated to her house in Windsor — and remained silent.


The rumor mill quickly started churning. Various clues and photos were used to feed all sorts of assumptions.

Then in March, Kensington Palace, the official London residence of Prince William and Catherine, released a photo of a healthy, smiling Catherine with her three children, to mark Mother's Day in the UK.

But news agencies flagged the photo after they determined it had been digitally manipulated. Shortly after, Catherine admitted to having personally photoshopped the photo.

That contributed to more speculative theories — was it an attempt to cover something up?

A week after "Kategate," the princess was seen strolling into a farm shop in Windsor, accompanied by her husband, where they bought bread. Another customer spotted the royal couple and filmed them with his cell phone, before telling the British Sun newspaper that Catherine seemed happy and relaxed.

So was everything fine again now? Sadly not: In a video message released on Friday evening, Catherine announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year, following her surgery. "My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment," Catherine said in the video, which is reported to have been recorded on Wednesday. No further details about the nature of the cancer would be released, the Princess's office said.

So far, her life had seemed like a fairy tale to many: Marriage to the future king, three healthy children, loved by the public. The cancer diagnosis changed all that.

Catherine is considered a figurehead for the British monarchy. And though she was not of aristocratic heritage, she won even the Queen's heart with her elegant and at the same time down-to-earth manner.

Queen Elizabeth gave her grandson her blessing, and though she was not a noblewoman, the young Kate Middleton had everything to become a worthy member of the royal family. She simply fit in.

When she married Prince William in 2011, she became an official member of the royal family — "The Firm," as it is also known. And their PR team also contributed to her image: She was no longer Kate Middleton, but Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of a future king.

And she learned to deal with media pressure. Followed at every turn by paparazzi, she did exactly what was expected of her — both by the family and the public. She didn't allow herself to be impressed and knew how to showcase herself without stealing the show from her fiancé.

This still applies today. The Catherine/William team has been working together for over 20 years. She laughs loudly and heartily, darts across the tennis court and waves happily to everyone. With her winning smile, she fulfills her representative duties at her prince's side. Her focus is on charities committed to helping disadvantaged children and young people.

She leaves nothing to chance when choosing her outfits, which are simple and elegant, planned down to the smallest detail. She is always so well-groomed — whether attending a royal ceremony or planting a tree during a public appearance — that it almost seems a little too staged.

Catherine is now 42 years old and has given birth to three children, including two male heirs to the throne, who could one day follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth, who died in 2022. So the future of the royals has been secured.

The importance of Catherine's role for the royal family is more than just ensuring that there are enough heirs to the throne. She is also the one who adds a fresh touch to the outdated monarchy. She helps the royals come closer to their subjects.

To do this, she uses the power of media and social networks like no other family member before her.

Here too, Princess Catherine is supported by the royal PR team as she attempts to create a positive image of the royal family, with photos of her perfect outfits and well-behaved children.

On Instagram, she has more than 15 million followers.

When William's younger brother, Prince Harry, introduced American actress Meghan Markle to Buckingham Palace in 2016, Catherine had a sparring partner for a short time. Together with their husbands, they were the young royal "dream team;" many called them the "Fab Four" in reference to the Beatles — and they appeared to be finally dusting off Buckingham Palace's image.

But in 2019 the couples went their separate ways, with observers speculating on the causes of their rift. It was finally over after Harry and Meghan withdrew from Buckingham Palace.

As confident as ever, Catherine stayed on the ball and became the most important face of the royal family after the Queen's death. Though King Charles III holds the throne, his son William and his daughter-in-law are the figureheads of the British monarchy, the bearers of hope for the future.

And that's why the whole world will be watching for her after Easter — hoping to see Catherine return to health.

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