A small-town pub in rural North Norfolk, England, welcomed a surprise guest over the weekend of April 6: Prince William. “It was all very low-key, with no great fanfare,” a patron told a media outlet. “He appeared to be with his mother-in-law, Carole Middleton.”

Princess Kate Middleton did not join them. “She was home at Anmer Hall,” says a source, adding that Carole has moved in with the family at their Norfolk estate to help Kate, who announced on March 22 she has cancer. “Her mother has been a rock for them because their home life has changed a lot. Kate has been able to rely on William, her mother, and those in her inner circle to help her with the children while she focuses on getting through chemotherapy, fighting this disease — and adjusting to her new normal.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton Are Protecting Their Kids

The children are her priority. Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 6, are the reason Kate, 42, waited so long to share the heartbreaking news about her health. “Kate handled a difficult and tricky situation incredibly well … to have to deal with [her] children and then have to offer explanations in such a public scenario,” her uncle, Gary Goldsmith, has said. 

She wanted to protect them for as long as she could, adds the source, “to make sure they understood that she was going to be OK and felt safe before she announced it to the world.”

But once she released the video, adds the source, “there was definitely a sense of relief because it put an end to all the wild speculation about why she hadn’t been seen for so long after her surgery. Now she can recover in relative privacy, with her family around her.”

They’re giving her all the support she needs. While Kate has said, “It’s hard for everyone to see you suffering without being able to do anything about it,” William, 41, has stepped up as best he can. Despite their recent marriage struggles following William’s cheating scandal, “he has been an enormous source of strength. He’s so proud of how she’s dealing with this and loves her more than ever,” a source says of the prince, who rearranged his royal schedule to take on more parental duties, like school drop-offs and pickups. 

Carole, 69, “has been shuttling Kate to her appointments and caring for her at home. There’s no one like your mother to comfort you when you’re feeling sick, no matter how old you are.”

“[The kids] are following some new rules, like picking up after themselves and making their own snacks, but also making sure to wash their hands more often because Kate can’t be exposed to germs while she’s going through chemo,” says the source. “George, who has always been wiser than his years, has been a real role model, especially to Charlotte. And she loves keeping Louis in line!” (At an event last year, William joked that Charlotte was always “making sure her little brother behaved himself.”)

Kate Middleton Is Embracing Mindfulness

Kate, who’s always prided herself on being a hands-on mom, has learned to rely on her inner circle, especially her sister, Pippa, her nanny, Maria Borrallo, and her close Norfolk friends. “A very wise person said to me, ‘The more people you have around your children who are safe and loving and caring, the better,’” Kate once said. “It was a real weight off my shoulders, that it’s not totally my responsibility to do everything, because we all have good days and bad days, and if you can dilute that with others who aren’t, on that particular day, struggling, it makes such a difference.”

Still, there are two people who will never be part of that inner circle again: brother-in-law Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. While Kate and William briefed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on her surgery beforehand, “William and Kate decided to cut them out of knowing anything that happened after,” says the source, noting that because Harry divulged in interviews and in his memoir, Spare, so much about their private lives, “the trust is gone. William and Kate can’t risk them leaking anything about her condition, which would make the situation even more stressful than it already is.”

Kate needs to put all her energy into healing. When the princess suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, during all three pregnancies, she became a proponent of meditation, hypnosis and deep breathing, and she’s again turned to those practices to help ease the stress, says the source. It also helps to know she’s got the whole world in her corner. 

In a recent survey, Kate was voted the most popular royal (a 6 percent increase from last year), and she and William have seen a surge in Instagram followers. The public have flooded her with well wishes, like the two little girls at a March 27 event in Shrewsbury who presented Queen Camilla with hand-drawn posters that read, “Send our love to Kate.” “I shall send these on to Catherine,” Camilla told them. “I know that she is thrilled by all the kind wishes and support.” 

She is. “Kate may not want to show her face again right now, but she is truly moved by all of the positivity coming her way,” says the source. “This is the fight of her life, but she’s determined to beat cancer.”

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