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Will Kate Middleton Join the Royal Family for Easter Following Abdominal Surgery Recovery?

Royal watchers have circled March 31 on the calendar, but the Princess of Wales might not return to the public eye so soon

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton at the Easter Mattins Service at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2023.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton at the Easter Mattins Service at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2023.

Royal watchers are anxious for Kate Middleton's return to the public eye, but it's still unclear when that will happen.

The Princess of Wales, 42, has not stepped out publicly since Christmas as she recovers from an abdominal surgery on Jan. 16. Many are wondering if Princess Kate will make her first post-procedure outing by joining the royal family for their traditional church outing on Easter, which falls on March 31 this year.

Upon announcing the news of the operation, Kensington Palace said Princess Kate "is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter."

While the guidance states that Kate won't be out and about until after Easter, the holiday church outing is technically a private family event rather than a royal duty, leaving the possibility for an appearance on Easter open.

<p>Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Getty</p> Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Kate Middleton at the Easter church service at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2023

Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Getty

Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Kate Middleton at the Easter church service at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2023

Related: Prince William Is All Smiles as He Steps Out amid Kate Middleton Photo Controversy

If Princess Kate doesn't join the Easter festivities, it may be a few more weeks until she makes a public appearance. Kate and Prince William's children — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 — are on school vacation in early April, and the parents usually take time off to be with their kids during school breaks, meaning that she possibly won't undertake a royal duty until mid-April.

In Kensington Palace's Jan. 17 statement announcing the Princess of Wales' surgery, she apologized for having to cancel planned engagements.

"The Princess of Wales wishes to apologize to all those concerned for the fact that she has to postpone her upcoming engagements. She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible," the palace statement said.

The lack of clarity around Princess Kate's operation created a vacuum that's been filled with conspiracy theories regarding her health and whereabouts, prompting a spokesman to issue a second statement reiterating that she would not be resuming public duties until after Easter.

"We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant," the spokesperson said on Feb. 29.

<p>Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty</p> Prince George, Kate Middleton and King Charles after attending the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023.

Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty

Prince George, Kate Middleton and King Charles after attending the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on December 25, 2023.

Related: Prince William and Prince Harry to Appear Separately at Event in Late Mother Princess Diana's Name

The hype around when the Princess of Wales might return to royal duty made headlines on March 5 when the British Army listed her name as leading the annual review of soldiers at Horse Guards Parade in London on June 8. The review precedes the Trooping the Colour parade the following weekend, which Princess Kate has an extra special connection to this year. The Number 9 Company Irish Guards are leading the charge this year, and as honorary colonel of the regiment, Kate would traditionally conduct the Colonel's Review before Trooping.

The following day, however, the Princess of Wales’ office said they had not been consulted, and her name was pulled from the page selling tickets to the event.

Samir Hussein/WireImage Kate Middleton and Prince William at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at Mons Barracks on March 17, 2023
Samir Hussein/WireImage Kate Middleton and Prince William at the St. Patrick's Day Parade at Mons Barracks on March 17, 2023

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Although Princess Kate hasn't stepped out in public since her surgery, she was spotted twice riding in cars near Windsor, where she lives with her family and has spent most of her recovery period.

On Monday, Kate was seen leaving Windsor Castle in a vehicle with Prince William hours after apologizing for "any confusion" around her Mother's Day photo, which marked the first official portrait of the royal since her procedure. Princess Kate released the surprise statement after multiple global photo agencies pulled the photo featuring Kate with her three kids due to suspicions of manipulation.

"Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," she said. "I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother's Day."

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