Inside top secret plan for Kate Middleton’s return to public life as aides work around clock

By Staff


The Mirror understands two former aides, known for being “well-established public relations experts” have been consulted by the team tasked with devising Kate’s new schedule

Kensington Palace is working around the clock with publicity big guns on the plan for the Princess of Wales’s return to public life.

A team featuring Kate and Prince Willliam’s closest aides, their communications team and former palace staff members are being consulted as part of the top secret project. Royal sources said courtiers had asked for help and advice after a tumultuous period surrounding the princess’s absence from royal life, following abdominal surgery in January.

The Mirror understands two former aides, known for being “well-established public relations experts” have been consulted by the team tasked with devising Kate’s new schedule after weeks of heightened scrutiny. One of them is her new private secretary, Lt Col Tom White, who joined the royal team in January.

He previously served as an equerry to the late Queen Elizabeth II from November 2020 until her death in September 2022. Prince William ’s new private secretary, former diplomat Ian Patrick, who previously worked for former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, is also part of the senior team.

He worked under Lord Ashdown when he was in Bosnia from 2002 to 2006 before joining the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Mr Patrick is also a trustee of the charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

One source said: “The teams are working round the clock to devise the Princess of Wales’s back-to-work plan after weeks of immense pressure. They all know that the world will be watching after weeks of heightened speculation and often outlandish commentary on social media.”

The decision, sanctioned by both the Prince and Princess of Wales, follows weeks of chaos at Kensington Palace as it struggled to deal with an outbreak of outlandish conspiracy theories over Kate’s condition and whereabouts. The princess, who was last seen on royal duty on Christmas Day, has been unable to carry out official engagements since her admission to hospital for a planned operation.

But a new video emerged last night of the prince and princess visiting a farm shop in Windsor on Saturday, where the couple appeared smiling and chatting while strolling with shopping bags. While Kensington Palace last night reiterated that the princess would not return to royal duties until after Easter, conversations have taken place for her to join her family and other senior royals at church on Easter Sunday.

Other reports have suggested Kate, 42, may not take part in any public engagements until after April 17, when her children go back to Lambrook School, near Ascot, Berks, following the holidays. The new plan follows the furore over the release by Kensington Palace of a heavily edited photograph taken by Prince William of Kate and their three children to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Hours after appearing on social media and on news sites across the world, internet sleuths identified more than a dozen issues with the photograph which apparently proved it had been edited. Six of the world’s biggest photo agencies, including the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images, subsequently announced they had deleted the image from their libraries, saying the picture had been “manipulated”.

The princess later confessed to editing the picture and issued an apology which said she had only done what “many amateur photographers” do routinely. But it prompted respected Agence France-Presse to compare Kensington Palace to North Korea, saying the household was “no longer viewed as a trusted source”.

Meanwhile, Kate has continued her recovery at home in Windsor after spending 13 days at the London Clinic in Marylebone, Central London.

Conversations among members of the senior team are understood to have involved scenarios where the princess might discuss her condition and recovery. Sources said if the princess decides to be more open, she could decide to address it in an interview or podcast, such as when she appeared in 2020 on Giovanna Fletcher ’s podcast, Happy Mum, Happy Baby.

A palace source said: “The team has been very consistent in any updates. When there is something more to say or announce, we will do so.” At the time the palace announced Kate’s hospital stay, sources suggested she may speak about her health battle, but only when she returned to work and felt comfortable in doing so. Charities and organisations the princess is already aligned to are also in the process of being contacted as her schedule is devised, sources said.

A palace source said: “There are ongoing conversations that involve the senior team at Kensington Palace and the communications team. Naturally, conversations are had with former staffers as part of our continued operations.”

The prince and princess are also understood to be close to their former communications chief Jason Knauf, who later became CEO of their charitable Royal Foundation. Mr Knauf, who is now on the board of Prince William’s environmental Earthshot Prize project, was included in King Charles’ first New Year Honours list in December 2022.

He was handed the honour by the heir in May at Windsor Castle, being made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the family. He worked for both William and Kate as well as Prince Harry and Meghan, when in October 2018, he emailed his concerns about William’s then-private secretary over allegations of bullying towards staff by the Duchess of Sussex. The Duchess’s legal team have in the past strenuously denied the allegation.

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