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Kate: Privacy watchdog launches probe into Princess of Wales’s hospital notes ‘breach’ | UK News

A probe has been launched into reports that hospital staff attempted to view the Princess of Wales’s private medical records.

The hospital in central London where the princess was treated in January has launched an investigation into the claims, according to reports.

At least one member of staff was alleged to have been caught trying to access the royal’s notes, the Mirror reported.

Royals latest: William ‘deeply frustrated’ at Kate speculation

Kate attended The London Clinic in January for abdominal surgery – and she has not attended a public engagement since.

An Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) spokesperson said on Tuesday: “We can confirm that we have received a breach report and are assessing the information provided.”

Hospital bosses are said to have contacted Kensington Palace after the apparent breach came to light.

The clinic refused to comment on the claims but told the Mirror: “We firmly believe that all our patients, no matter their status, deserve total privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical information.”

Kensington Palace said: “This is a matter for The London Clinic.”

Sky News has contacted Kensington Palace and The London Clinic.

Police officers outside the London Clinic, in central London, where the Princess of Wales is recovering after undergoing successful abdominal surgery, Kensington Palace has announced. The Palace refused to confirm what Kate was being treated for but confirmed the condition was non-cancerous. Picture date: Wednesday January 17, 2024.
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The London Clinic in January. Pic: PA

Conspiracy theories flourish

Conspiracy theories have flourished on social media following Kate’s absence from public life after her surgery, with many speculating about her whereabouts and health.

A poll for Sky News found more than half of people in the UK have seen conspiracy theories on social media about why the Princess of Wales is absent from public life – but it hasn’t dented trust in the Royal Family.

Footage emerged of the royal out shopping with the Prince of Wales at the weekend at the Windsor Farm Shop close to their Adelaide cottage home in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Online speculation increased after news agencies pulled a Mother’s Day photograph of Kate and her children after irregularities were spotted, which led to the princess admitting to “editing” the image and apologising for any “confusion” caused.

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Two public appearances since operation

The future Queen has been photographed in public twice since her operation.

In a picture published on 4 March, she was seen in the front seat of a car driven by her mother, Carole Middleton, in the Windsor area.

She was also photographed sitting next to the Prince of Wales in a chauffeur-driven car last Monday, when he attended the Commonwealth Day service in London and she was driven to a private appointment.

Read more:
William gives nod to Kate’s work during project visit
‘Happy and smiling’ Kate filmed out ‘shopping for bread’ with William

Kate could walk to church on Easter Sunday – report

Kensington Palace has been drawing up plans for Kate to make a “soft return” to public life, according to a report in The Times, with the possibility of her walking to church on Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile, Simon Lewis, the late Queen’s former communications secretary, told Sky News that William and Kate’s engagement on social media is a “Faustian bargain”.

“I think every single member of the Royal Family is very aware that the Royal Family must be visible and must be visible in a way that is contemporary. And I do think the use of social media by the members of the Royal Family has been absolutely spot on,” he said.

“It’s about long-term communication of what the institution stands for and what the members of the Royal Family are doing. And I think that requires a different kind of communication and also requires a different way of thinking about how stories unfold.”

Vaughan Gething: The vet’s son and cricket fan who’s set to become Wales’s first minister | UK News

Vaughan Gething has been elected leader of Welsh Labour – and is set to become the next Welsh first minister and first black leader of any European country.

Currently serving as minister for the economy, Mr Gething, 50, has been in politics since he was a teenager.

But he rose to prominence as health minister throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when, he told Sky News years later, “you had to make really difficult, big calls and go out and front them up on a daily basis”.

Mr Gething described himself during the leadership race as “experienced, engaging and ambitious”.

Vaughan Gething in 2021, when he was the health minister. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Vaughan Gething in 2021, when he was the health minister. Pic: Reuters

Mr Gething was born in Zambia, where his father, a Welsh vet, met his mother, a Zambian chicken farmer.

He has spoken in the past about experiencing prejudice, and the impact it has had on him and his family.

In the 1970s, when he was two, his family moved to Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, where his father was due to start a new job – only to find the offer withdrawn when he arrived with a black family.

The family eventually relocated to Dorset, where he was brought up.

Set to become the nation’s first black first minister, he said: “Today we turn the page in the book of our nation’s history.

“A history that we write together.”

Early career

Mr Gething studied law at Aberystwyth University and then qualified as a solicitor at Cardiff University, having also served as the president of Wales’s National Union of Students.

His passion for politics began at a young age: he joined the Labour Party at 17 to help campaign in the 1992 elections.

Before being elected to the Senedd, he worked as a researcher to former Assembly Members Val Feld and Lorraine Barrett between 1999 and 2001.

Mr Gething became the youngest ever president of the Wales Trade Union Congress in 2008.

Elected to the Senedd

Vaughan Gething upon getting elected in 2011. Pic: PA
Image:
Vaughan Gething upon getting elected in 2011. Pic: PA

He was first elected to the Senedd in 2011 as the member for Cardiff South and Penarth.

Mr Gething joined the cabinet in 2013 as deputy minister for tackling poverty, the first black cabinet minister in any of the devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

He was appointed deputy minister for health in 2014, before he took on the role of health minister in 2016.

He retained the role throughout the first year of the pandemic until he was made economy minister.

The government’s COVID response is currently the subject of an ongoing public inquiry.

This was the second time he ran to become leader of the Welsh Labour Party, having stood in 2018 against Mark Drakeford.

Read more from Sky News:
‘Reservations’ about new Welsh voting system
The colourful career of Wales’s outgoing first minister

Minister for the Economy of Wales, Vaughan Gething (centre) during a training session at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.
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Gething (centre) during a visit to a training centre in Doha, Qatar, in 2022. Pic: PA

A ‘retired’ cricketer

He is a keen cricketer but now describes himself as “largely retired”.

While cricket is his main sporting passion, Mr Gething is also a fan of rugby and football.

But he says most of his time outside of parliament is spent with his wife and young son.

Kate photo: ‘An intern doing that wouldn’t get a job’ – Photo agency director unimpressed by Princess of Wales’s editing | UK News

If an intern had produced the sort of editing the Princess of Wales did on her photo of her and her children, they would not get a job, a senior photographic agency executive has told Sky News.

Eric Baradat, a photo director at Agence France-Presse (AFP), described Kate’s efforts as “really amateur” and said he and his colleagues “joked this morning, saying if an intern was doing that at AFP, they wouldn’t get a job, no chance at all”.

He told Sky News they soon realised there was “some very strange business going on” with the picture after it was published on Sunday.

Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, visits Sebby's Corner in north London, Britain November 24, 2023. The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood to provide support to families with young children in the run up to Christmas. Sebby's Corner was formed in January 2021 and provides items to families in need across Barnet, Hertfordshire and London. Frank Augstein/Pool via REUTERS
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The Princess of Wales. File pic: PA

He said that “the more you look at the picture, the more you enlarge it, it becomes obvious that it’s been manipulated or altered or doctored or whatever you call it, really badly… in a way that is really amateur” and “really badly done”.

As to how the image slipped through their checks, he admitted “doubting images” was one of their responsibilities, “especially nowadays, where no image can be trusted. Basically, no single image can be trusted.”

The Prince of Wales after attending the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
William at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday. Pic: Reuters

However, all the agencies have “total trust with the material that Kensington Palace is usually sending out”, especially given the picture was one without “political consequences”.

As experienced editors, he said, they should “debunk a lot of the fake [pictures]” and sometimes use software programmes to help identify them.

But in the case of the 42-year-old princess’s editing efforts, “you don’t need that”, as “it’s obvious with the human eye, with somebody that knows digital images that there’s not even a need for that”.

AFP was one of the agencies that told media outlets to “kill” the photo from their systems and archives.

The Princess of Wales apologised “for any confusion”, admitting on Monday she had edited the Mother’s Day image.

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” she said in a statement.

Associated Press told Sky News the photo showed an “inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand”.

Read more:
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On Monday afternoon, a Reuters spokesperson said: “The source of yesterday’s handout photo said that she has experimented with editing. The altered photo didn’t meet Reuters standards of image quality, and that is the reason we withdrew it yesterday.”

The photo was the first official image released since Kate had abdominal surgery in January.

Royal sources said the Princess of Wales made “minor adjustments” and that she and Prince William – who took the photo – wanted to offer an informal picture of the family together for Mother’s Day.

“The Wales family spent Mother’s Day together and had a wonderful day,” the source added.

Kate: Why has there been speculation about the Princess of Wales’s health? | UK News

Speculation about the Princess of Wales’s health has circulated online since Prince William pulled out of his godfather’s memorial due to a “personal matter”.

Kate was admitted to hospital for “planned abdominal surgery” exactly a week after her 42nd birthday in January.

Kensington Palace later confirmed the surgery was successful and she would be taking time to recover at home in Windsor.

But amid concerns for her father-in-law’s health following his cancer diagnosis, and the lack of explanation when William said he would not attend the memorial, speculation about the Princess of Wales’s health has been widespread.

When did she have surgery?

The princess was admitted to the London Clinic, a private hospital in Marylebone, on 16 January.

The following day, Kensington Palace confirmed the procedure was successful, estimating she would remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days.

More on Princess Of Wales

On 29 January it was announced she was discharged and went home to Windsor.

Pic: AP
Journalists wait outside the London Clinic in central London where Britain's King Charles III is being treated for an enlarged prostate in London, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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Journalists outside the London Clinic. Pic: AP

At the time, Sky News understood that her recuperation would likely take between two and three months.

Read more:
Conspiracy theories on Kate won’t force William to change privacy position
Prince William to carry out engagements this week

A palace statement said: “Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.

“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.

“Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.”

William’s ‘personal matter’

Prince William was due to attend a memorial for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, at Windsor Castle on 27 February.

The King did not attend due to his ongoing treatment, but William was expected with other members of the family until an hour beforehand.

The palace issued a statement to say the prince would not attend due to a “personal matter” – but did not elaborate.

Prince William with members of the Jewish community in London on 29 February. Pic: PA
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Prince William visiting members of the Jewish community in London on 29 February. Pic: PA

Anticipating speculation, it did add that Kate is “recovering and continues to be doing well”.

According to Sky royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills, the prince’s “decision and lack of explanation for it has exposed how high-risk their strategy of keeping quiet is” – and has resulted in a “vacuum of information… rumour and speculation”.

“The voracious appetite for news about the princess hasn’t been helped by the perception that the King is being much more open about his cancer diagnosis,” Mills said.

Pic: Andrew Matthews/PA 
Prince Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, Prince of Denmark RE, and Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, Princess of Denmark (both front) and Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark (fifth right) attend a thanksgiving service for the life of King Constantine of the Hellenes at St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Picture date: Tuesday February 27, 2024. PA Photo. Constantine II, who died on January 10, 2023 was the last King of Greece, reigning from 1964 to
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Members of the Greek and Danish royal family in Windsor for the memorial for the late King Constantine. Pic: PA

Royal experts have said comparisons between the King and the Princess of Wales are unfair – as the former is the reigning monarch with far greater responsibilities and public interest.

But it has not stopped conspiracy theorists speculating about alternative scenarios to the one stated by the palace.

(left to right) The Princess of Wales, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, the Prince of Wales, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall  attending the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. Picture date: Monday December 25, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story ROYAL Sandringham. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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The Wales’s at Sandringham on Christmas Day. Pic: PA

When might we see her again?

Kate has not been seen in public since the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham.

Kensington Palace said the princess would not be returning to public duties before Easter Sunday, which this year falls on 31 March.

In recent years, William and Kate have attended church services on Easter Sunday in Windsor with their children.

Regardless, all eyes will still be on William, who is due to attend Commonwealth Day celebrations on 11 March.

The original indication of two to three months’ recovery, would mean a return somewhere between 16 March and 16 April.

Separately, Queen Camilla is taking the week off royal duties ahead of Commonwealth Day as she had no planned commitments.

Wales’s health minister Eluned Morgan hits back at Steve Barclay’s offer to treat patients in England | UK News

A Welsh government minister has accused the UK’s health secretary of “a cheap political stunt” after he suggested patients in Scotland and Wales could be treated in England to reduce waiting lists.

Steve Barclay said he was “open to requests” for patients who had been waiting a long time for treatment.

Health is a devolved matter and comes under the responsibility of the Labour government in Wales and SNP in Scotland.

Wales’s health minister Eluned Morgan said the offer from her English counterpart seemed “very odd”.

Recent figures showed 5% of patients on waiting lists in England had been waiting more than a year at the end of June.

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‘Will cancer targets be scrapped?’

The Welsh government said it did not have official figures on the number of individual patients waiting to start treatment.

NHS Wales figures show around 18% of patient pathways were waiting more than a year.

Patient pathways is the total number of waits not the number of individual patients on waiting lists and some patients may be on more than one pathway.

“I think it’s a cheap political stunt for the summer and it seems very odd for a man who’s got 7.5 million people waiting on lists in England to be offering this kind of service beyond his borders,” Baroness Morgan said.

“Where on earth he’d find the capacity from I don’t know, but if the offer’s free then I certainly would want to take it up but my guess is this is just a cheap political stunt.”

‘Challenged’

The health minister acknowledged Wales was “challenged” when it came to waiting lists but cautioned against direct comparisons due to the different ways waiting lists are measured either side of the border.

“The fact is that we are challenged in terms of waiting lists in Wales but we count very differently, we include for example the number of people waiting for therapies,” the minister added.

“The number of people waiting for diagnostics. None of that is counted so you do have to compare like with like and we don’t do that when it does come to waiting lists.”

Scotland’s health secretary Michael Matheson suggested Westminster should concentrate on the “many issues south of the border”, such as doctors’ strikes.

Read more:
Breast cancer patient says she waited 28 weeks from test to treatment
Some cancer targets are poised to be scrapped by government

Mr Barclay also suggested he would like to see closer working between governments on health, a suggestion backed by Baroness Morgan.

“We’re more than happy to cooperate,” she said.

“In the past we used to have weekly meetings with UK health ministers, but since Steve Barclay’s been in power since October, we’ve had two.

“So this is a man who suddenly seems very converted to the cause of devolution when he wants to score a political point.”