LONDON — Kate, the Princess of Wales, announced Friday that she was diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, breaking her silence after weeks of widespread speculation over her health.

The 42-year-old wife of Prince William, Britain’s future king, was hospitalized for almost two weeks at the private London Clinic after having major abdominal surgery in January.

It was thought that her condition was noncancerous and that the surgery had been successful, Kate said Friday in a rare video message. “However,” she said, “tests after the operation found cancer had been present.”

Kate said that she was now undergoing “a course of preventative chemotherapy” on the advice of her medical team. She did not specify what type of cancer she has or at what stage it was found, and Kensington Palace, the couple’s royal household, has not said why the operation was necessary.

“I am now in the early stages of that treatment,” Kate said in the statement, released by the palace. She thanked the public for their support but also asked for “time, space and privacy” while completing her treatment.

Follow live updates on Princess Kate’s health announcement

“This, of course, came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment,” Kate said.

“But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK,” she added, referring to their three young children.

Kate also had a message for those affected by the disease.

“At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer,” she said. “For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.” 

At the time of Kate’s operation, William postponed a number of engagements as he juggled being with his wife and looking after their children.

King Charles III was himself diagnosed with cancer last month and has been undergoing treatment. Buckingham Palace has not specified the type of cancer or at what stage it was found, though the announcement marked a break with royal history that has often seen ailments hidden from the public.

Kate’s surgery and withdrawal from the public eye led to commentary and conspiracy theories that spread across social media. On Friday, Kate asked for privacy.

“I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too. As is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both,” she said.

“We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment,” she said. “My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was among the first to issue a message of support after Kate’s message, saying that his “thoughts are with the Princess of Wales, Prince of Wales, the Royal Family and in particular her three children at this difficult time,” he wrotein a post on X.

“I know I speak for the whole country in wishing her a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back in action when she’s ready,” he added.

Kate’s absence from public view and the ensuing media frenzy have fueled a public reckoning with how the royal family balances its desire for privacy with transparency and accountability in the modern world.

The royal rumor mill was sent into overdrive when a family photo of Kate and her children — released to mark Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom and in an apparent bid to end the rumors— was pulled by photo agencies because it had beerishin digitally altered.

As uproar grew, Kensington Palace said that Kate herself had edited the photo and apologized “for any confusion.”

She was seen in grainy video a week later, after being spotted out shopping with William in Windsor, in what royal experts said was likely a deliberate effort to put an end to the saga.

But it then emerged that Britain’s data watchdog was investigating a report that staff members at the hospital where she underwent surgery had tried to access her medical records.

Kate regularly polls as one of the most popular members of the royal family.

The former Kate Middleton grew up in Berkshire, an affluent county west of London. She was raised by entrepreneur parents and attended the exclusive Marlborough College. Kate then studied art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she met William in 2001.

Their relationship came to public attention when they were photographed together while skiing in Switzerland, and despite briefly splitting the couple were married in 2011.

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