Prince William ‘Upset’ by Social Media Frenzy Surrounding Kate Middleton

The Prince of Wales was rattled by the online attention that escalated around Princess Kate.

Prince William felt frustrated by the social media firestorm surrounding Kate Middleton’s health earlier this year.

Before the Princess of Wales, 42, disclosed her cancer diagnosis, she stepped out of the public eye following an abdominal surgery in January. Despite the palace sharing that she wouldn’t return to public duties for several months, conspiracy theories spread online questioning her health and whereabouts.

The rumors left Prince William, 41, feeling “upset and angry,” a former staffer tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story, adding that the future king has managed to “compartmentalize it.”

“William is strong-minded, stubborn sometimes. That, and his emphasis on family life, will give him the backbone and strength to get through this,” says Valentine Low, author of Courtiers.

The Prince of Wales needs that focus now more than ever. Princess Kate’s health, which she has not elaborated on in terms of cancer type, presents the most significant challenge among several hurdles William has faced this year.

In February, he navigated the cancer diagnosis of his father, King Charles, while Kate continued her abdominal surgery recovery amid growing speculation online about her absence from public life.

Before Princess Kate announced on March 22 that post-operative tests from her abdominal surgery found “cancer had been present,” prompting her to start chemotherapy, she was swept into a high-profile controversy surrounding the editing of a Mother’s Day photo. The image showing the royal mom with Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 9, and Prince Louis, 6, was pulled by multiple news agencies due to suspicions of manipulation, prompting Kate to release a statement saying she does “experiment with editing” and apologizing for “any confusion” the photo caused.

These episodes have made the first months of 2024 some of the most difficult of Prince William’s life, as he balances being an emotional support for his wife and children while continuing his leadership role in the monarchy.

“Whether you’re a prince or a pauper, no one would expect anything like this with his father and his wife both being treated for cancer,” says a royal insider. “William is digging deep.”

As he treads the tightrope of duty to his young family and to that of his country, Prince William’s primary focus is steadfastly supporting his wife.

“For William, everything hinges on Kate’s well-being,” says royal biographer Ingrid Seward, author of My Mother and I.

The family-first mantra that has guided William and Kate throughout their 13-year marriage is now more important to him than ever, especially as his children need him the most.

“William is prioritizing giving her all the time she needs to get better and the support, particularly to the children,” a close source tells PEOPLE.

Despite the challenges, the couple remain committed to maintaining a sense of normalcy for their kids, continuing routines at Adelaide Cottage in Windsor and their country home Anmer Hall, in Norfolk.

Princess Kate’s announcement was also strategically timed to minimize disruption to the children’s lives, ensuring they had more than three weeks of seclusion during the Easter break. Privately, they’ve marked several special occasions, including the couple’s wedding anniversary, Louis’s 6th birthday on April 23 and Charlotte’s 9th on May 2.

“From what we know of their personal lives, for William and Kate, spending time with their children is the most precious and enjoyable thing they can do,” says longtime royal biographer Robert Lacey.


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