I REALLY was going to turn away from the Kate Middleton drama that has engulfed the PR team at Kensington Palace for the last few weeks. Saying I bear no fondness for the royals would be an understatement of the highest order, and it’s absolutely possible that my only interest in their latest debacle is watching them squirm under harsh spotlight.

That being said, there is something fishy going on with the Windsors, and the wellbeing of a woman and a mother of young children is at the centre of it.

With the absence of the Queen, otherwise known as the royal family’s answer to Kris Jenner, it’s become apparent that it was her influence and authority that kept the establishment running on such a tight ship. Without her, they are descending into utter public-relations disaster. Unable to navigate even the most basic of challenges. And they are handling their latest with an almost impressive lack of ability.

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Which tells me that there is indeed something to hide – if it was as simple as putting her in front of a camera and confirming the state of her wellbeing, they would have done it.

The fact that it’s clearly not something they are able to do, and the lengths that they are going to in order to cover it up, is starting to feel sinister and is stirring interest in even the most unlikely of onlookers.

To recap...

Kate Middleton, one of the most photographed human beings in the world, hasn’t been seen since Christmas Day. The palace announced back in January that she would be out of action following an abdominal surgery that would hospitalise her for 14 days, following which she would be absent from all royal engagements until the spring.

It was this announcement that first got tongues wagging, what abdominal surgery in this day and age requires that length of stay in hospital? There was no additional information offered other than a confirmation that Kate was not suffering from cancer.

To start with, I didn’t see anything that out of the ordinary. What with her being a literal princess, I just imagined she would be in hospital receiving the gold standard level of care and they were being extra precautionary. She is the future queen, after all.

Apparently that is something of a big deal.

The National: Kate Middleton

But as the weeks hurtle towards the princess’s supposed Easter return (watch out Jesus), things just keep getting more bizarre.

It first blew up on Twitter in the same week as the infamous Glasgow Willy Wonka experience. In a perfect example of why, no matter how miserable the app can be, I will never delete it (or call it X).

The humour online that week was second to none, a time that the chronically online will remember fondly forever. In a poetic merging of universes, meme after meme depicted Middleton being photoshopped into the pictures emerging from Glasgow. Satirical theories suggested her new gig as one of the Oompa Loompas was the real reason she is passing on her royal engagements.

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A personal favourite was a cartoon of the Scooby-Doo gang unmasking her as a villain. A niche of humour that only those who spend too much time online will appreciate.

I am, unashamedly, one of those people.

Things got even stranger on Mother’s Day when, amid increasing speculation around her whereabouts, Kensington Palace released a supposedly new photo of Kate and her children.

It became clear very quickly that the picture was doctored, to such an extent that the Associated Press pulled it from circulation. It was this that really set the conspiracies alight – if she is in fact fine and well, and there is nothing to report, why go to the extreme of photoshopping her into an image in an attempt to subdue public concern?

The real stickler here for me came after this. When the PR nightmare that ensued from the poorly edited Mother’s Day picture took hold, and they made Kate herself fall on her sword.

The National: The photo of Kate Middleton with her three children Louis, Charlotte and George has come under

Incredibly, Kensington Palace released a statement purporting to be from the princess herself, in which she said that she had edited the picture because she enjoys experimenting with Photoshop.

It became clear at this point that none of this can be about protecting Kate, nor is any of it centred around her wellbeing. They made her take the fall for an embarrassing debacle that would’ve gone through multiple channels of approval when she is supposedly recovering from a serious surgery.

An establishment bursting at the seams with advisors and PR gurus, and the best course of action they could muster was to put Kate herself in the firing line in the middle of her recovery. I just don’t buy it. Is she even well enough to have approved that statement? We have yet to see a confirmed, clear picture of her since last December.

In amongst all of this, an image of her in the car that was so grainy you’d be forgiven for thinking it was taken on a noughties Sony Ericsson was published. This is a woman we have, against our will, seen in HD from all angles multiple times a week for the last 15-plus years.

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But all of a sudden, the only image anyone can get of her is so inconspicuous there is no way to decipher whether it is actually her or not. And in every case so far, most believe it’s not her at all.

It’s all starting to feel darkly familiar, and with a family prone to secret-keeping and known to be the fiercest protectors of their bloodline and their establishment whatever the cost – should we be concerned for her wellbeing? Either way, the continuous gaslighting of the people they claim to serve is but another example of how out of touch and disconnected they really are.

We are entering a new era of disdain for the royals, one where their business-as-usual deceitfulness isn’t as easily swallowed and public confidence in the Queen isn’t there to steady the ship.

While Middleton’s privacy should be respected, and her wellbeing – particularly in the context of her being the mother of small children should be front and centre – the edited pictures and brown-haired decoys are nothing other than a sinister attempt to fool us all.

But what exactly is it that they’re hiding this time? With pressure mounting, I assume it won’t be long before we find out. I’ll be on the edge of my seat.