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Amid her ongoing recovery following a cancer diagnosis, Kate Middleton is learning a lesson Princess Diana did decades earlier. According to a royal commentator, the Princess of Wales, 42, is realizing, like her late mother-in-law before her, being able to ‘completely disappear’ is impossible, at least for an extended period of time. 

Kate’s kept her medical information private out of a desire to maintain ‘normality’ at home

When Kensington Palace first announced on Jan. 17, 2024, that Kate had undergone abdominal surgery one day earlier, they did so with few details. 

The palace shared Kate was recovering at The London Clinic where she’d go on to spend nearly two weeks before returning home. Furthermore, she’d be taking time off from royal duties to continue recuperating before eventually returning to work, likely sometime after Easter. (The holiday falls on March 31, 2024.) 

Most notably, however, the reason fo the surgery wasn’t revealed, only that it had been “planned.” As for why the palace wasn’t sharing the details, they noted it had to do with Kate’s desire to maintain a sense of normalcy for her and Prince William’s three children: Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5. 

“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate,” the palace said in the statement. “She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.” 

From there, the palace noted they’d only provide updates on Kate’s condition when there’s “significant new information to share.” 

Not two months later the palace released a statement saying they refused to provide a “running commentary” on Kate’s recovery. On March 22, 2024, in a pre-recorded video, Kate revealed she’d been diagnosed with cancer following her January abdominal surgery.

Being able to ‘completely disappear’ didn’t ‘work’ for Diana, and it’s not working for Kate

According to Tina Brown, a royal expert and author, the strategy of “completely disappear[ing]” doesn’t have longevity where royals are concerned. 

“I think that they’re flailing and that we now need to have a new PR person come into the palace and start having a strategy about these issues,” Brown told CBS Mornings amid the edited Mother’s Day photo drama (via Newsweek). 

“I think this whole idea really that you can completely disappear, it just doesn’t work. It didn’t work in Diana’s day.” 

“In fact, this whole thing has reminded me so much of the 1993 speech that Diana made when she came out at a charity,” she continued, noting the late royal “asked the public to give her time and space.” 

Diana asked for privacy as she navigated her split from now-King Charles III

“She said, ‘I knew there was going to be scrutiny when I took on this role but I had no idea what it was going to be like,’” Brown recalled. “I sort of feel we’re heading that way a bit for Kate.” 

While Kate’s plea is similar to Diana’s, Brown suggested the outcome will always be the same; the fascination won’t stop. 

“I do think [Kate] clearly feels ill and depleted, and she wants this time. But I also think, you know, there’s been so much strain and stress on her,” the Palace Papers author said. “She’s been trying to say, ‘Can I just recover quietly and in peace?’ just like Diana tried. And they won’t let you do it.”

What Diana said about wanting to live a ‘more private life’ 

After separating from then-Prince Charles, Diana announced she’d decided to reduce her public work to pursue a “private life.” In a speech at a 1993 charity luncheon she confessed to not being “aware of how overwhelming” the “attention” from the media “would become” upon joining the royal family. 

She went on to say it had “been hard to bear.” For that reason,” she planned on finding a “more suitable way of combining a meaningful public role, with hopefully, a more private life.” 

“I hope you can find it in your hearts to understand and to give me the time and space that has been lacking in recent years,” she continued, noting she “couldn’t stand here today and make this sort of statement without acknowledging the heartfelt support I’ve been given by the public in general.” 

Her plea, of course, went unanswered as the “War of the Waleses” continued to play out publicly and the “attention” she received from the media raged on.