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Catherine, Princess of Wales, Says She’s Being Treated for Cancer

(Bloomberg) -- Princess Catherine is being treated for cancer, she said in a video statement, shedding light on a royal health crisis that has been the subject of intense media speculation in Britain and beyond.

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Catherine, the Princess of Wales and wife to the heir to the British throne, Prince William, said Friday that her scheduled abdominal surgery in January uncovered the presence of cancer. She has subsequently been undergoing “preventative” chemotherapy, she said without elaborating on the type of cancer or its severity.

“I am now in the early stages of that treatment,” said Catherine, 42. “This of course came as a huge shock and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.”

It’s the latest health setback for the British royal family, whose longevity was symbolized by Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign. The announcement comes six weeks after Buckingham Palace disclosed that King Charles III was also receiving treatment for an unspecified cancer and 18 months since the queen’s death.

The princess’s health scare led William to suspend some appearances, suddenly leaving three of Britain’s most senior royals out of the public eye. While King Charles has continued light royal duties, such as delivering a video message last week to mark the anniversary of the Commonwealth, it remains unclear when he might return to a fuller schedule.

Kensington Palace first announced on Jan. 17 that the princess had been admitted to the hospital for “planned abdominal surgery” and wouldn’t return to public duties until “after Easter,” which in the UK will be observed on March 31 this year. At the time, the BBC reported that her condition was “not cancer-related.”

“The Princess of Wales has the love and support of the whole country as she continues her recovery,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement. “In recent weeks, she has been subjected to intense scrutiny and has been unfairly treated by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media.”

Speculation about the princess’s health was amplified after Prince William failed to attend a Feb. 27 memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece. He was due to give a reading, but he withdrew less than an hour before the event.

The palace subsequently released a photo of Catherine and her three children on Mother’s Day, accompanied by a written message from the princess. The photo was then recalled by five international photo agencies because of concerns it had been “manipulated.” The Princess later apologized for the “confusion,” indicating that she had edited the photo.

On Friday, she requested “time, space and privacy” while she receives medical care. She indicated that she might continue to keep a low profile, saying she would return “when I am able.”

“It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment,” Catherine said. “But most importantly it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.”

--With assistance from Eamon Akil Farhat and Charles Capel.

(Updates with prime minister’s statement in seventh paragraph.)

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