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The first 2024 photo of Kate Middleton is finally here. After much speculation surrounding her recovery from surgery — it’s even involved a coma conspiracy theory — paparazzi have photographed the Princess of Wales. According to a royal commentator, Kensington Palace could’ve prevented the paparazzi shot had they not maintained so much “secrecy” surrounding Kate’s recovery. Instead, continuing to keep details about the 42-year-old’s recuperation private, which they originally outlined as the plan, has only fueled “completely feverish wild speculation online.” 

Paparazzi spotted Kate in the car with her mom on March 4 

On March 4, 2024, the public got their first glimpse of Kate since Christmas Day, 2023. It came nearly two months after the mother of three’s “planned” abdominal surgery from which she’s been recovering at home in Windsor, England. 

Taken by paparazzi and published by TMZ, the image shows Kate riding in the passenger seat of a car with her mother, Carole Middleton, behind the wheel. 

Kate sported sunglasses in the photo, which reportedly may have been taken while she returned from taking her and Prince William’s children — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 — to school. The three young royals are students at Lambrook School, near the Wales family home, Adelaide Cottage. 

At the time of writing, British media haven’t circulated the paparazzi photo of Kate due to privacy concerns.

Kensington Palace could’ve preempted the Kate paparazzi photo by releasing their own image

“I think that the palace could have made this all go away last week,” Jack Royston, a royal commentator, told Good Morning Britain, noting all they needed to do was release an official image of Kate (via Newsweek). 

“Kate could have taken a picture herself,” he said. “She could have taken a selfie. William could have taken it. It didn’t need to be a good picture. Didn’t need to be a high-res image. It just needed to be a picture or a little video like Charles did.” 

The commentator said Kensington Palace’s media strategy — minimal information — created a “snowball” effect leading to the paparazzi shot. 

“What’s effectively happened is they’ve allowed this to snowball into a massive thing, and if they’d got ahead of it, then they would have actually protected Kate better,” Royston said.

“It probably felt to them at the time like they were protecting her and shielding her by just leaving her to get on with her recovery undisturbed. But actually, this is not protecting Kate.” 

“Her being papped in Windsor, the [Daily] Mail is speculating that she may have been on the school run, that that’s not protecting her. She was not going to feel protected in this moment.”

The palace’s ‘secrecy’ surrounding Kate’s recovery helped create ‘demand’ for a paparazzi photo

Related Royal Commentator Urges Kensington Palace to Be ‘Candid and Open’ Amid Kate Middleton Recovery Drama

Royal Commentator Urges Kensington Palace to Be ‘Candid and Open’ Amid Kate Middleton Recovery Drama

“The kind of secrecy that Kensington Palace brought to this situation fuelled [sic] completely feverish wild speculation online,” Royston said. 

“And that creates the demand. That means TMZ know that they’re going to make big bucks running these pictures. Because they know that huge numbers of people are going to go and click on this story.”

“And that means that they can pay big amounts of money to the photographer,” he added. “Which makes it worth the photographer’s while to take the risk to get these pictures.”

A public appearance is unlikely to follow the paparazzi shot of Kate. The reason: she’s expected to return to royal duties after Easter, or March 31, 2024.