So why all the fuss about Kate?

Kate Middleton will not be undertaking public duties until at least Easter. Credit: PA

It must be said, the Royal Family is looking very thin on the ground right now.

Yes, Prince William did go back on public view after his mysterious 11th hour disappearance on Tuesday and is back on duty today, in Wales as Prince of Wales on St David’s Day.

But with the King out of action for many weeks and Kate still off until at least Easter, these feel like very precarious moments for a Royal Family that used to find itself accused of being too big and “unwieldy”.

You couldn’t say that of the 2024 version of Monarchy which, at times, gives the impression that Queen Camilla is the only one left holding the fort.

Royal aides in Kensington Palace however are perplexed by the “where is Kate” narrative which has taken hold in many corners of social media.

As for what they make of the, frankly, wild conspiracy theories about the reasons for her absence, we can only guess.

Princess of Wales meet well-wishers after attending the Christmas Day. Credit: PA

But to repeat what they told us at the outset when the Princess of Wales had her abdominal surgery, she is due to be off work until Easter as she recovers from the operation.

To state the obvious: it’s not yet Easter and won’t be for another month. And the school holidays continue for a couple of weeks after that.

So she is taking no longer to recuperate than we were originally advised and, as a royal source said when William went Missing in Action on Tuesday, Kate continues to be “doing well”.

So why all the fuss?

Firstly, it’s not normal, as William did, to pull out of a major event less than an hour before it starts, when it’s happening in your own backyard and you were due to give a reading in front of many other European royals for a former King of Greece who was also your godfather.

If the King and Queen of Spain could make it to St George’s Chapel from Madrid, why couldn’t William from his house on the same estate?

Charles reads messages sent by well-wishers after his cancer diagnosis, in the 18th Century Room of the Belgian Suite in Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

It was because of a “private matter” we were told and Prince William has as much right to keep some things private as any of us have, even though he is in a very public role.

It’s also a precarious moment given our relatively new monarch, as King Charles still is, who is 75 years old, is out of action for an indeterminate period of time while he undergoes treatment for cancer.

For a man who spent more than 70 years as heir to the throne, it has knocked off course all the plans he had for the reign for which he had so long planned and for which he was so well prepared.

Yes, there is a hardworking Queen Camilla who is keeping her chin up and carrying on, but she is a Queen Consort (married into the role) rather than the Queen Regent we had in Elizabeth II.

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And Camilla herself is 76 years old.

And as much as Princess Anne and the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Edward and Sophie, do still carry out many royal engagements – they are not in the top four and therefore, get much less attention.

None of it has been helped by the fact that, in the absence of King Charles, Prince William and Princess Kate at the big thanksgiving service earlier this week, it was Prince Andrew’s face which appeared to be all over news websites and social media. Grinning widely. Which wasn’t a great look.

Andrew is not “taking centre stage” as some have claimed - he is still a non-working Royal but the Duke of York does now go to family events like the Sandringham Christmas Day service.

He is not about to re-enter public life.

Mix in other stories about the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson’s skin cancer and the sad death of Thomas Kingston - husband of Lady Gabriella Windsor this week – and, taken together, everything starts to look very precarious.

But perhaps we should all give Kate some space. Whatever operation she had in hospital, it was clearly very serious.

And William is all at once dealing with his wife’s serious illness and his father’s cancer – alongside the terrible relations with his brother Prince Harry.

I suspect, for the Prince and Princess of Wales, the throne they always knew would come their way, is suddenly looking a lot bigger and a lot closer than it did at the start of the year.

And with three children, the oldest of which is ten years old and will be the next heir to the throne, it’s a very unsettling time.

And for all those reasons, perhaps Kate should be allowed to recover from her surgery in private and in the timescale already set out by her medics and by Kensington Palace.