Analysis: William will be solo for some time to come – and his family’s privacy is at the forefront of his mind

By Rhiannon Mills, royal correspondent

As a family they’ve been used to having to step into the spotlight. This is a moment when all the Princess of Wales wants to do is protect her children from it. 

As the world processes the news of her cancer diagnosis, her message about the importance of family couldn’t have been stronger. And is why we’re all being asked to stop speculating about where they now are and leave them alone.

It can’t have been easy for her to record it but the more you watch her message and other parts stand out, showing a different, more self assured side of Kate – who usually loathes public speaking. 

Talking directly to others with cancer, she says: “Everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.”

There is a strength and poignancy to that final phrase that draws comparison with Queen Elizabeth II’s rallying words to the nation during COVID, where she said “We’ll meet again”.

From this future Queen there is no sense of resentment after what must have been a gruelling few weeks. Since her announcement, the social media speculation of #kategate has been replaced by an outpouring of love and sympathy.

With messages from around the globe from some of the world’s most famous and influential individuals, this is an acknowledgement of her incredible international status and how highly respected she is.

Throughout her surgery, diagnosis and further treatment, Prince William has been by Kate’s side. And his wife is clearly in his thoughts as he’s tried to keep going with his public engagements, regularly talking about her whether it was at a homelessness event in Sheffield or decorating biscuits at a youth club in London. 

Going solo is something he’s going to have to get used to for some time to come, with no clear idea of when we’ll see the princess back on royal duties. 

Tessy Ojo was with William for the Diana Award event less than a couple of weeks ago. The charity’s chief executive, she’s known him for the past 24 years and says his resilience is remarkable. 

“I suppose we, with the benefit of hindsight, now knowing what was going on, it’s huge, you know. It gives you a sense of how much they continue to honour service, what it means to them,” she says. 

“How he shows up, how they show up, despite all of the stuff that’s happening.

She added: “I cannot emphasise enough how much we need to take a step back and allow this family to recover in peace.”

He may be heir to the throne but like any partner trying to help their loved one through something like this, he will no doubt feel slightly helpless. A lot of what lies ahead is in the hands of the doctors, but from what I understand he does feel what he can do is really double down on his deep desire to protect his family’s privacy.

It is Kate’s response and her decision to tell us herself that has been particularly striking. She is a devoted mother, wanting to do the best for her family, and her inner strength is really coming to the fore.