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Where is the Princess of Wales? We all know – it’s just not exciting enough for a social media age obsessed with drama

No one had this one on their 2024 bingo card. As the new-ish year gets into full stride, the latest social media craze has a rather royal theme. It’s called ‘Where is the Princess of Wales?’

Other versions of this game are available (see ‘where is Kate Middleton’ for a start). However, whatever your flavour, it involves going online to post questions about where the future queen might be right now as she hasn’t been seen in public since Christmas.

This latest parlour venture could keep you occupied for hours. If you do decide to play, put on your best tin hat. Some of the answers would have been rejected by Agatha Christie for being too out there.

Where is the Princess of Wales? It seems the answer is far too simple and far too obvious to keep social media happy. We know exactly where Kate is. She is at home, in Windsor, getting better after major surgery.

Kensington Palace announced in January that HRH had needed abdominal surgery and would require two weeks of inpatient care followed by at least two months of rest at home to recover. Don’t expect to see the Princess before Easter, we were told. Easter is still a month off. However, despite being told where Catherine is and why, it just won’t do for some.

Depending on which crazy, sorry, interesting strand you fall on, all kinds of weird worlds await you, many of them brought to you by experts with medical degrees acquired from half reading a poorly written message on, you’ve guessed it, social media. The general consensus of the most malicious is that the official story ‘doesn’t add up’ and something nefarious is afoot.

How very dull of everyone to believe the official line that a previously healthy young woman has had unexpected serious issues and now needs to get better. No, no, no, argue the world leaders in the new game of ‘Where is the Princess of Wales’. This must be more, they claim. If she was really just very ill then she wouldn’t need to rest up. She’d have loads of time on her hands. And, obvs first thing on her to do list would be to put aside doctor’s advice and get busy with her phone to make a reel or three for socials or settle down for a gridworthy photo with its own hashtag.

Even better are the sanctimonious ones who argue that the Princess of Wales should be telling everyone exactly what is wrong with her, right now, to raise awareness. After all, that’s what The King has done, they claim, often shouting this in capital letters with little or no punctuation. If it’s good enough for the actual Head of State then who on earth, they ask, does his daughter in law think she is by not doing the same as the very bare minimum. Never mind that The King himself will have been supportive of Kate dealing with what is clearly unexpected ill health in her own way. In this crazy game, anything goes.

If you’re slightly queasy at the thought of two ill people being played off against each other by others that they don’t know, then a) you’re a fairly decent person and b) where is the Princess of Wales isn’t going to be your favourite past time. However, this version of it demands that Kate put on her best jumper, right now, look pale and wan, again with immediate effect, and start talking, without delay, about her personal medical matters. Preferably on socials and with a vertical video that can be shared instantly. Thanks.

I don’t know the details of her operation but I know it won’t have been pleasant. There will have been blood and stitches and pain. Yet some claim the Princess has an obligation to talk about all this right here, right now cos they said so, usually in capital letters and with quite a lot of spelling mistakes. And as she won’t, well, to them it can only indicate something else. Something vague, something weird, something sinister. Back to the rabbit hole that is ‘where is the Princess of Wales’?

Maybe it shows the fading light of modern culture. We used to have good conspiracy theories. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when ‘grassy knoll’ was common parlance. I once read a couple of books about Elvis during the years when he really did look more like Donald Trump than Austin Butler. The ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ can be more alluring than reality. And therein lies the rub. For the reality is that Kate is at home, in her PJs, getting better. And in the modern age of social media, that just isn’t enough.

As the ‘Where is Kate’ game has gone on, it’s taken on some gentler aspects. We’ve had parody accounts adding their take and a whole new generation of memes is being born, good natured and sending up the whole craziness of the social media obsession rather than focusing on someone’s ill health. But there is a huge difference between well intended humour and downright nastiness.

Personally, I’m with the person who posted that they don’t usually know where the Princess of Wales is on any given day and so nothing, really, has changed. However, for those with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do, the obsession contiues.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.