How did we want Kate Middleton to look?

I don't know about you, but I wouldn’t be a royal for all the gold in the world. The level of scrutiny never lets up, and popping down to the shops in your trackies is definitely off the cards.

Add a cancer diagnosis and impending queenhood and that intensity gets turned up by several thousand more degrees. 

Kate Middleton felt well enough in the midst of her chemotherapy treatment to pop out and make an appearance at the Trooping of the Colour on the weekend, the official birthday parade for King Charles (his actual birthday is later in the year, but the royals never let that stop them). 

The Princess of Wales, 42, has been in treatment for an undisclosed cancer since February, and she’s been laying pretty low during that time, while she focuses on getting well. 

It was a wonderful surprise for royal watchers on Friday evening, the day before the parade, when Kate announced she'd be making her first royal appearance in six months. 

Watch: Trooping The Colour - King Charles Iii Birthday Parade. Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube/The Royal Family Channel.

"I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days," she said in a statement released on Friday (Saturday morning over here), adding that she faces "a few more months" of treatment.


But this appearance was always going to come with extra scrutiny, and it's been a hot topic among some commentators. How would Kate look? Would she be healthy? Would she be thin and frail? Was she up to the appearance? 

Which leads one to wonder: how should a woman battling cancer look to make us all feel comfortable? Should she be smiling and just 'getting on with it'? Would it please royal watchers more if she looked unwell?

We can't pretend this isn't a gendered issue, with King Charles also undergoing treatment for cancer, after Buckingham Palace announced he was undergoing prostate treatment on the same day Kate’s cancer was announced.

I haven't seen a single comment online about how healthy or otherwise he looked at the Trooping of the Colour.

Kate must have felt the eyes of the world upon her, and although she's used to a particular level of attention, coming back after six months to that was always going to be a lot. She has been understandably private about the type of cancer she has, and the level of treatment she’s been undergoing, but we do know that chemotherapy has been involved and that her treatment still has a few months to go. 


Women I've known who have gone through a similar treatment have found it difficult to just be in public, trying to act like life is normal when it’s anything but - and feeling the weight of people’s stares if they’ve lost their hair. 

Chemotherapy can affect your skin, your nails, your menstrual cycle, your digestive system, it can cause mouth sores, tired muscles and hair loss - and so much more.  

It's a part of treatment and recovery, and what a miracle that many women who are diagnosed with cancer these days can survive with timely treatment. But there's a whole load of performative empathy that can come along with it. 

Why do we need to comment on how a woman looks while her body is waging this incredible battle? Why do we need to talk about how much they weigh?

If battling cancer teaches us anything, it's that there are a whole lot more important things than whether we’ve gone down a dress size.

What's the correct thing to say when you see someone who has been going through a life-altering health battle? Something supportive would be nice, and something that doesn't make judgements about their appearance would be even better.


Some talked about how the princess had championed sustainability by wearing a recycled Kate Sylvester dress she first wore on the eve of King Charles's coronation. Others talked about Kate's popularity and how thrilled the large crowd was to see her when she appeared.

Now that the weekend is over, Kate will presumably be back to her regular life as she knows it at the moment, balancing parenting with treatment and taking care of herself, combined with a small amount of working from home. 

Hopefully she'll be given the good grace to prioritise what's important.

Feature Image: Getty.