On a garden bench, amid a sea of ​​daffodils: how Kate dropped her bombshell news

Tyesterday there was no carpet of roses outside Windsor Castle, no bunches of daffodils blocking the entrance to Kensington Palace – just the occasional bouquet. The royal family wanted things to return to normal after the Princess of Wales revealed her cancer diagnosis the day before, and the public was happy to oblige.

Tourists watched the changing of the guard in Windsor, while in London visitors filed into Kensington Palace to see the regalia of former monarchs or posed for selfies outside.

The sense of normality is vital for the royal family at a time of great vulnerability. Just over a year after the Queen’s death, King Charles is focusing on his own battle with cancer. The Prince of Wales is juggling royal duties with caring for his wife and their three children, and there is no sign of an end to William’s estrangement from Prince Harry.

Among the younger royals, Sarah, Duchess of York, is also dealing with cancer, while two new films remind audiences of Prince Andrew’s behavior. The king’s optimism about reinventing the royal family as a slimmed-down, modernized monarchy during his reign could be soured by a series of measures. anni horribiles.

The Royal Family will be heartened by well-wishers at the royal residences, as well as world leaders and celebrities, sports stars and charities who praised Catherine for speaking openly about her shock at learning of her illness, her preventive chemotherapy and the effort she and William had taken to explaining to their three children what it meant.

The King and Princess Catherine in 2021. Both are now undergoing treatment for cancer. Photo: Chris Jackson/AP

At Kensington Palace, Terry Jackson, who had visited with his granddaughter Ellie from his home on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, said it was a shame that Kate had felt the need to release the statement.

“It’s been tough for them,” says the 66-year-old retired kitchen technician. ‘The king too, with his fear of cancer. But unfortunately that’s where they’re at. If they don’t say anything, they get it. If they do, they get it.”

Katie Nicholl, author of The new royals And Vanity fairThe royal family correspondent said she hoped “the wild, and frankly salacious and irresponsible conspiracy theories” would finally come to an end.

“It really should not have been necessary for the Princess of Wales to issue an unprecedented personal video message to do that,” she said. “Although that’s not the reason she did this – she did it because she wanted to speak to the audience in her own way, on her own terms, in a timeline that works for her and her young family.”

At the start of the year, the royal family was only a few months into the king’s plan to reinvent itself as a slimmed-down, modernized monarchy. But those plans were dismantled in early January when Kate was secretly admitted to the London Clinic for abdominal surgery a week after her 42nd birthday.

The next day, January 17, Kensington Palace announced that she had undergone surgery and just an hour later Buckingham Palace followed suit by announcing that Charles would also be going to the private hospital for surgery on an enlarged prostate. Neither was said to have cancer.

Gossip about the health of the king and future queen began to filter through social media. The king’s cancer diagnosis on February 5 caused a wave of interest in cancer charities, but the lack of information about Catherine created room for speculation.

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Terry Jackson said it was a shame Kate had to release the video. Photo: Andy Hall/The Observer

People on social media initially tried to calculate her condition based on the scant details of her treatment – ​​newly established experts in hysterectomies, tummy tucks and bowel obstructions. But the digitally manipulated Mother’s Day photography unleashed a flood of conspiracies.

All that came to an end on Friday evening when Kensington Palace released the video message, recorded two days earlier at the Frogmore House estate in Windsor by a BBC camera crew. She sat on a bench, beaming in the spring sunshine with an early bloom of daffodils behind her, and told the world she had cancer.

“Most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that suits them, and to reassure them that I will be fine,” she said. “As I told them; I am doing well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirit.”

Simon Lewis, former communications secretary to the late Queen, said the “unprecedented” message was powerful, courageous and dignified. “We now know why they wanted to wait until now, because the children are not going to school,” he said on the BBC Today program. Lewis added that people in public positions should not be forced to reveal details of their private lives, but David Yelland, the first Sun editor and Lewis’s co-host of the When it hits the fan podcast, said it wasn’t that easy for the royal family.

“Months went by and it was filled by social media,” he said. “Fast forward six, nine months, that vacuum will open up again and social media will come back in very quickly, so we’ll have to be updated somehow.” It was hard being on the minds of millions of people, Yelland said. “The palace needs to think about how to gently fill that vacuum without putting any pressure on Kate.”

Her illness and treatment mean that the bulk of public royal duties will continue to fall to Queen Camilla, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Edinburgh. They face the challenge of distracting those determined to stir up drama online and inspiring a new generation of royal devotees.

At Windsor Castle, Ann Anderson, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, said the princess’s video message was “absolutely amazing”. “How can you sit on a couch at that age and just talk about your health?” she said. “My heart goes out to her, my heart goes out to William. Hasn’t he been through enough yet? That’s all he really needs.”