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Did Kate Middleton Hint at Health News by Missing This Key Meeting?

The Princess of Wales was not photographed at the summit held the day before her surgery

<p>Stephen Pond/Getty</p> Kate Middleton at Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Stephen Pond/Getty

Kate Middleton at Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Was Kate Middleton's absence at a recent meeting a result of what was happening behind the scenes?

Palace sources tell PEOPLE that the Princess of Wales, 42, is “doing well” after having “planned abdominal surgery” on Tuesday. Prince William visited her at the hospital on Thursday during what the palace said would be a 10 to 14-day stay before going home to continue her recovery.

While Kensington Palace announced that Princess Kate had surgery the day after it happened, there may have been another signal of her reduced royal duties.

On Monday, The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood posted photos of a Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood meeting at Kensington Palace — and Princess Kate, who launched the initiative, was missing. The images included three group shots of stakeholders along with a bit of background on exciting plans.

Related: Kate Middleton 'Doing Well' After 'Successful' Abdominal Surgery, Palace Sources Say

“There is such ambition and determination from this group to lead the charge in driving transformative change and creating a healthier, happier society by increasing the focus on #earlychildhood,” began the thread on X. “We are looking forward to sharing more in the coming months.”

“A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes with the taskforce members and there are some really exciting projects being developed,” it continued.

“It was fantastic to host Chief Executives of some of the U.K.’s biggest businesses at Kensington Palace as we reconvened The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood,” the third message said.

While Princess Kate was present for the Business Taskforce’s first meeting last March, it’s unlikely that she would have been at the meeting on Monday as her focus was on getting the group launched. The task force is “run by business, for business” and is composed of Unilever, Deloitte, The LEGO Group, IKEA UK and Ireland, NatWest Group, Aviva, Co-op, and Iceland, per the Royal Foundation.

The Princess of Wales launched the Centre for Early Childhood in June 2021 within The Royal Foundation she shares with Prince William to “drive awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, in order to transform society for the future,” its website states. She unveiled the “Shaping Us” initiative in January 2023 to further raise awareness around the pivotal nature of a child’s first five years of life, and the Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood was established soon after.

<p>DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty</p> Kate Middleton at the the inaugural meeting of the Business Taskforce for Early Childhood in March 2023.

DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty

Kate Middleton at the the inaugural meeting of the Business Taskforce for Early Childhood in March 2023.

Related: Prince William Visits Kate Middleton in Hospital After Her Abdominal Surgery, Will Spend as 'Much Time as Possible'

In a speech at the task force’s first meeting, Kate spoke about how the first five years of a child's life are a crucial time to lay the building blocks for life and that environment is a pivotal factor.

"This, however, is not just about supporting children in the earliest years of their lives. It is also about building healthy communities in which they can grow. Because the healthy development of our children relies on healthy adults. So this is why we all have a part to play," she said at the summit held at NatWest bank’s London headquarters.

"And that is why I'm standing here in front of you, to ask you, some of Britain's most influential business leaders, for your support in helping create the societal change that is needed,” the Princess of Wales said.

The task force may follow her focus in the months ahead, as Kensington Palace said yesterday that Princess Kate is “unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter” following the abdominal surgery.

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

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“Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales was admitted to The London Clinic yesterday for planned abdominal surgery. The surgery was successful and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days, before returning home to continue her recovery,” Kensington Palace said on Wednesday. “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,” it continued. Princess Kate and Prince William are parents to Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5.

“Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share,” the statement said. “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.”

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images</p> Prince William drives away from The London Clinic on Jan. 18.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince William drives away from The London Clinic on Jan. 18.

On Thursday, Prince William was seen leaving the private London Clinic around 12:35 p.m. local time, and the princess is said to be “doing well” following the successful procedure. PEOPLE understands that the issue is non-cancerous and that William will be there to support his wife during this time.

“He is understood to be planning to spend as much time as possible with the Princess as she recuperates, balancing daytime visits with caring for their three children at home in Windsor,” The Telegraph reported on Thursday. “The Prince drove himself to the hospital, and is expected to pick his children up from school later today as usual.”

Buckingham Palace also announced Wednesday that King Charles would head to the hospital next week for a “corrective procedure” to treat an enlarged prostate, and Queen Camilla gave a quick update on his health on Thursday.

"He's fine, thank you very much. Looking forward to getting back to work," Queen Camilla said at the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Scotland when asked how her husband was doing.

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