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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Robbie Griffiths

The Princess of Wales's health history revealed, as she recovers from abdominal surgery

The Princess of Wales is spending up to two weeks at a private hospital in London after a successful abdominal surgery, it was revealed yesterday.

Kate, 42, is expected to stay at the London Clinic in Marylebone for 10 to 14 days, and then return home to Windsor to continue her recovery.

The reason for the procedure has not been shared, but it is understood to be non-cancerous. It’s thought to mean she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter, which has seen her cancelling trips to Italy and Latvia.

She was last seen in public on Christmas Day in Sandringham, while the royal family put out a new picture of her at King Charles's coronation.

The King, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and the Princess of Wales on Christmas Day (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

The future Queen is usually a picture of good health, often playing a range of sports on royal engagements. She runs regularly in Windsor Great Park and enjoys cold water swimming. The Royal family website records that Kate is a “keen sportswoman”, and that her “passion for sport, nature and the outdoors stems from her own experience and enjoyment of playing tennis and hockey and sailing from a young age.”

But over the years she has had a few medical issues. Here is a short history:

Severe morning sickness

The Princess of Wales plays netball as she attends a mental fitness workshop run by SportsAid at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Marlow (Suzanne Plunkett/PA) (PA Wire)

The Princess of Wales was hospitalised for three days with severe morning sickness in 2012, while she was pregnant with her first child Prince George. She spent time at King Edward VII's Hospital — a different private hospital in Marylebone often used by the royals – before returning home.

Kate also suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) while pregnant with Princess Charlotte in 2014 and Prince Louis in 2018, but stayed at home in Kensington Palace. The condition meant that she was forced to announce both pregnancies early, before the normal 12-week mark, and she described the experience as 'utterly rotten.' Hyperemesis gravidarum can be so severe that sufferers vomit up to 30 times per day, resulting in dehydrationSpeaking on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, in 2020, Kate said: "I was really sick. I wasn't eating the things I should be eating and yet the body was still able to take all the goodness from my body and to grow new life, which I think is fascinating."

She also described the effect her sickness had on Prince William. "William didn't feel he could do much to help and it's hard to see you're suffering without actually being able to do anything about it." Kate found the hyperemesis gravidarum so debilitating that she actually enjoyed labour. "Because it had been so bad during pregnancy, I actually really quite liked labour… Because actually it was an event that I knew there was going to be an ending to! But I know some people have really, really difficult times, so it's not for everybody. No pregnancy is the same, no birth is the same."

The princess revealed she used hypnobirthing techniques to cope with the morning sickness. Kate said she was "not the happiest of pregnant people". She said after trying everything to overcome it she realised the importance of "mind over the body".

Kate said: "I'm not going to say that William was standing there sort of, chanting sweet nothings at me… He definitely wasn't. I didn't even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself.”

"I saw the power of it really, the meditation and the deep breathing and things like that, that they teach you in hypnobirthing, when I was really sick, and actually I realised that this was something I could take control of, I suppose, during labour. It was hugely powerful."

A three-inch scar on her head

The scar is visible on the side of the Princess of Wales' head (Getty Images)

The Princess also has a three-inch scar on the left side of her head, which is rarely seen in photographs.

It was first noted by the media in 2011 when Kate was conducting her first solo royal engagement at a dinner at Clarence House.

An official statement explained that “the scar related to a childhood operation” but said the details of the operation were a private matter. Surgeons at the time told reporters the scar is unlikely to be the result of a tumour and may have been caused by a birthmark being removed.

Planned abdominal surgery

(Lucy North/PA Wire)

Now Kate is spending up to two weeks at the Harley Street London Clinic for ten to fourteen days, and then return home to Windsor to continue her recovery.

The royal family said yesterday: “Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales was admitted to hospital yesterday for planned abdominal surgery. The surgery was successful and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for ten to fourteen days, before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.

"The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.

"Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.

"The Princess of Wales wishes to apologise 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.”

Prince William is said to be juggling childcare and aiding his wife as she recovers from surgery.

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