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Prince William Is “Very Sensitive” About Kate Middleton Being Hounded by the Press Like His Mother Princess Diana Once Was: “He’s Seeing Elements of That Being Repeated Again”

 Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Prince William and Kate Middleton.

As the Princess of Wales’ return to work date looms—more on that in a moment—in the midst of the 453,000 (approximately) errors the public has found in Kate’s Photoshopped Mother’s Day photo, there’s one detail that Marie Claire noticed from the start about the picture, and that the public is now fixated on: Kate not wearing her engagement ring or her wedding band in the photo.

It’s difficult to miss Kate’s sparkler in particular—her sapphire and diamond engagement ring has become one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry in the past 50 years, as it was previously worn by her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, when she was married to King Charles. Diana wore the ring from the time of her engagement in 1981 until after her divorce from Charles in 1996, and William gave Kate his mother’s ring when he proposed in 2010 to keep Diana close, even still today.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton

As rumors continue to circulate about Kate’s health, they’re also circulating about the state of her marriage. On the threshold of marking their 13-year anniversary on April 29, the ever-persistent Rose Hanbury affair rumors have suddenly been noticed by the general public five years later (it’s a tired narrative—let’s move on) and an impending divorce is being cited as the reason for Kate’s absence from the public eye.

As rumors the couple likely thought they’d quelled resurface, The Sun reports that William and Kate “are shaken” by false speculation about their marriage after Kate’s “missing wedding ring” sent the internet down yet another collective rabbit hole, in addition to the nearby rabbit hole surrounding her physical health. Now, if TikTok and X/Twitter/whatever are to be believed, her emotional health is in jeopardy, too.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

Royal experts have spoken out against the “disgusting bile, hateful comments, and cheap shots” aimed at Kate, The Sun reports, and the outlet’s longtime royal photographer Arthur Edwards said that Kate will find it all “upsetting.”

Friends of the Waleses told The Sunday Times that William and Kate were fully aware of the news coverage, the outlandish conspiracy theories, and what was being said and written about them on the internet and social media. One such friend said that speculation around the state of their marriage was “cruel.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

As to Kate’s missing ring, “Kate doesn’t always wear her engagement ring—the iconic diamond and sapphire band once worn by Princess Diana,” The Sun writes. Especially when playing with the kids and after surgery (who knows—her fingers may be thinner than normal), not wearing expensive jewelry while just hanging out around the house makes sense.

All of the hysteria has left the couple “shaken,” The Sunday Times reports, and one friend of William and Kate’s said the pair hoped and expected their request for privacy to be respected. “It’s not that they didn’t think there would be lots of speculation and interest, but they had confidence that people would give them the space they asked for, which they did for about a month,” they said.

After Kensington Palace announced on January 17 that Kate had undergone abdominal surgery the day prior and would be out of the public eye until April, waters were relatively calm until around February 27, when William pulled out of his godfather King Constantine’s memorial service citing undisclosed personal reasons. After that, it was off to the races for the internet and social media, where it unleashed its worst on the Waleses (and, unfortunately, continues to).

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

“If you want to call out the mistake, it was Kate not telling her team that she’d done it [edited the photo],” a different friend said. “But she came out and said sorry. The photo was a misstep. Even with something as innocent as that, you should disclose altering it. But in the history of image cropping and photo altering to tell a story, a lot of the reaction from picture agencies was hypocritical.”

The Sunday Times reports that the couple’s bubble is currently small and is being challenged by conspiracy theories and rampant prying into their private lives. “Now the heir to the throne is worried, friends say, [that] Kate is experiencing what Diana went through,” The Sun writes.

Princess Diana and Prince William
Princess Diana and Prince William
Princess Diana and Prince William
Princess Diana and Prince William

In an appearance on Good Morning Britain, Roya Nikkhah, royal editor of The Sunday Times, said “I think for him, having seen his mother go through quite a lot of that, the hounding of his mother…I think he feels he’s seeing elements of that being repeated again in terms of the demands and scrutiny over his wife, over her medical privacy. That’s hurting him.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

To that point, host Susanna Reid responded, “He sees that direct comparison?” to which Nikkhah replied, “He definitely does.” Reid said that William was likely “very sensitive about that,” to which Nikkhah replied, “He always has been. Ever since he was a child and ever since he’s been with Catherine. Since university.”

There are many parts of Diana that William no doubt loves replicated in Kate, even down to her engagement ring; the press' harassment of the woman he loves most is surely not something he ever wants to go through twice.

As to Kate’s return to royal duty, while Kensington Palace did say her return would be after Easter, it didn’t specify that it would be on Easter. (The royal family typically attends church together annually for the occasion.) Rather, we should more likely expect her return to occur sometime after her children’s Easter holiday at Lambrook School ends on April 17. While Kate hasn’t been undertaking royal engagements, she has been seen at Lambrook to support her kids; Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis all attend the school.

As to an Easter church service appearance, while unlikely, The Telegraph reports that Kate hasn’t ruled it out completely and will make a final decision in the weeks to come leading up to Easter on March 31.