Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has not been seen in public since the onset of the new year, leading up to the recent announcement of her undergoing a "planned abdominal surgery" at The London Clinic on Tuesday, Jan. 16. The absence of Middleton, a prominent figure in the British Royal Family, has been conspicuous, especially following the Kensington Palace's disclosure of her medical procedure.

The Princess was last seen in a public capacity during the annual Christmas Day walk to St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. Accompanied by her husband, Prince William, and their three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis – she partook in the traditional service alongside other members of the royal family. Following the service, Middleton engaged with well-wishers gathered outside, accepting gifts and flowers, and appeared in good spirits.

However, following this appearance, both Middleton and Prince William retreated from the public eye, spending the subsequent weeks in private family time over the Christmas period. This included the Princess's birthday on Jan. 9, which was celebrated away from public engagements.

In contrast, Prince William resumed his official duties in 2024, beginning with a visit to Headingley Stadium in Leeds. There, he met with Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield, awarding them their CBEs for their work in raising awareness of Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a condition Burrow was diagnosed with in 2019.

Kate Middleton's last royal engagement of 2023 took place at Westminster Abbey on Dec. 8, where she hosted the "Royal Carols: Together at Christmas" concert. Her participation in the event, marked by interactions and high-fives with scouts, was remembered for its warmth and approachability.

The Kensington Palace, in addressing the Princess's recent surgery, stated that Middleton has been advised a hospital stay of 14 days, followed by a recovery and recuperation period at home lasting two to three months. Consequently, she is not expected to resume her royal duties until after Easter in March. While specific details regarding her illness or the reasons for her surgery were not disclosed, the Palace has confirmed that it is not related to cancer.

In support of his wife, Prince William is reported to have also adjusted his schedule, canceling planned engagements to be by Middleton's side during her hospitalization and early recovery at their Windsor home.

The Princess's absence from public engagements and the news of her surgery have brought a wave of concern and interest, both in the United Kingdom and globally. As a key figure in the Royal Family, Middleton's public role and engagements are closely followed and her absence is keenly felt.

The situation underscores the delicate balance of public and private life for members of the Royal Family, where personal health matters can intersect with public expectations and duties. As Middleton recuperates, the public's attention is likely to remain focused on her recovery and eventual return to her royal responsibilities.