Kate's health kept secret to protect her children

This was the most emotional and personal we have seen the Princess of Wales, ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on Friday evening

The news about Kate could not come at a more difficult time for a Royal Family, which has been shaken by health issues since the start of the year.

At a time when King Charles is receiving cancer treatment, now the Princess of Wales is away from public duties indefinitely with her own cancer diagnosis.

Kate’s office will not say what cancer she has and sources indicate that each individual reacts differently to the news and that the Princess has an expectation of medical privacy.

The added complication here is William and Kate’s three young children, and the couple had to work out when was best to tell them.

It's understood that the children have known about their mother's diagnosis for a while, but the preference was they shouldn't be in school when it was announced publicly.

The announcement came today after George, Charlotte and Louis broke up from school on Friday for the Easter holidays.

William and Kate did not want Kate’s cancer to be in the public domain without first having told their children.

And no one can underestimate how hard that would have been.

It also took time for Kate and William to come to terms with the diagnosis, as well as time for her to recover from her other operation so she could start her “preventative chemotherapy”.

Kate started that cancer treatment at the end of February, several weeks after she left the private hospital, The London Clinic.

The Princess of Wales herself says that the initial abdominal surgery “was successful” but she now has to focus on her cancer treatment.

The cancer was not discovered when she had her major abdominal surgery but later during post-operative tests.

In that sense, it is very similar to how her father-in-law, the King, discovered his own cancer after he’d had his prostate surgery.

Kensington Palace will not be drawn on how long Kate’s chemotherapy course will last.

But for a Royal Family already running on reduced capacity, with the King largely out of action, it is a huge set back.

Queen Camilla is standing in for the King, doing solo engagements, as she did in Northern Ireland this week, and while Prince William is back at work, his priority will understandably be on his family.

None of the Wales family will be at the Windsor church service on Easter Sunday.

William and Kate will now spend the Easter holidays privately with their children.

It has been a terrible start to 2024 for the Royal Family but the good wishes of the UK, and indeed many countries around the word, will be with both the Princess of Wales and King Charles in their respective health struggles with cancer.

This is the Royal Rota - our weekly podcast about the royal family, with ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship and Producer Lizzie Robinson