A Timeline of Recent Events Involving Kate Middleton and the Royal Family

Catherine, Princess of Wales attends the traditional Easter Sunday Mattins Service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on April 9, 2023 in Windsor, England. Credit - Max Mumby/Getty Images

Amidst Kate Middleton’s monthslong absence from royal duties following a “planned abdominal surgery,” rumors about the Princess of Wales whereabouts have been flying.

On Sunday, speculation about Kate intensified after the first official photo of Catherine, the Princess of Wales, since her surgery was posted—and media wire agencies like the Associated Press pulled the photo from circulation because the image looked to be manipulated.

“Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months,” the caption signed by Kate said. The post was joined with a message congratulating women on Mother’s Day, which was celebrated in the U.K. on March 10.

The royals’ social media page later released a statement from Kate where she admitted to editing the photo and apologized “for any confusion” the photograph caused.

Read more: Kate Middleton Admits to Editing Family Photo After Wires Flagged Manipulation Concerns

The controversy around the photo marked just the latest inflection point on social media as conspiracy theories about the royal family have swirled since early this year. Here is a timeline of the events since Kate’s last official public appearance:

December 25: Christmas Day marks Kate’s last public appearance She is seen leaving church services at Sandringham, the family’s country residence north of London.

January 17: Kensington Palace announces that Kate underwent a “planned abdominal surgery” and will be hospitalized for 10 to 14 days. The Palace adds that it is unlikely Kate will participate in any public engagements until after Easter, which falls on March 31.

January 18: Prince William visits Kate at the hospital.

January 29: Following a nearly two-week hospital stay, Kensington Palace shares that Kate will return home to Windsor Castle to continue her recovery. “She is making good progress,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.

February 29: A spokesperson releases a statement to news outlets including Page Six and NBC News. "Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess’ recovery and we’d only be providing significant updates," they said. "That guidance stands.”

Read more: Kate Middleton's Mother's Day Pic Is Not the First Royal Family Photo to Come Under Scrutiny

March 4: Kate is photographed in the passenger seat of a car alongside her mother, Carole Middleton, as the two drive near Windsor Castle, according to images published by TMZ. The photo is not released or authorized by Kensington Palace, but marks the first time the Princess of Wales had been seen publicly since December.

No major U.K. outlet publishes the photo. Royals reporter Emily Andrews claims in a post on X that Kensington Palace, “exerted huge pressure on the British media NOT to publish the pic.”

March 5: The British Army posts and removes its claim that the Princess of Wales will be attending their annual Trooping the Colour event on June 8, leading to further speculation about Kate’s health.

March 10: In honor of Mother’s Day in the U.K., Kensington Palace shares a photo of Kate and her children, which the Palace says was taken by her husband earlier in the week at Kensington Palace. “Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day,” the caption said.

By Sunday evening, multiple major news agencies, including AP and Reuters, pull the image from circulation due to apparent manipulation. “While there was no suggestion the image was fake, AP pulled the photograph from circulation because it did not meet its photo standards,” the Associated Press explained following the retraction. “AP’s editorial standards state that images must be accurate. AP does not use altered or digitally manipulated images.”

March 11: Kate issues an apology for sharing the edited image. In a statement released through Kensington Palace, she wrote: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused.”

Hours later, she is photographed in a car leaving Windsor Castle alongside Prince William, though she did not join the Prince of Wales at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com.