On March 4, Princess Kate was spotted on the passenger side of a car with her mother, Carole Middleton, driving near Windsor Castle. It was the first sighting of the Princess of Wales in 70 days. In photos, the 42-year-old — who underwent planned abdominal surgery at the posh London Clinic January 16 — can be seen wearing dark sunglasses and a slight smile.

The public outing was perhaps meant to quiet the growing concern for Kate’s well-being. But it did little to quell ongoing worries surrounding the royal family, which has dealt with crisis after crisis in recent months.

On February 5, Buckingham Palace announced King Charles III had been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer and would be seeking treatment, but offered few other details about his health.

All this comes amid the ongoing rift between the royals and rogue Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. “There’s not a lot of transparency right now,” a palace source exclusively tells In Touch. “The lack of information about Kate’s and Charles’ conditions is causing even more confusion.”

With the 75-year-old monarch and his daughter-in-law both sidelined, there aren’t enough senior royals to handle the load. And Prince William, 41, is now cracking under the pressure. “The monarchy,” says the source, “is in turmoil.”

Power Vacuum

It’s become painfully unclear who’s in charge. After filling in for her ailing husband at 13 official engagements, Queen Camilla, 76, took a weeklong holiday in early March to recover from pulling double duty.

Inside Royal Family's ‘Turmoil’ Amid Kate Middleton's Absence
WPA Pool / Pool

Then on February 27, a usually reliable William unexpectedly pulled out of a memorial service for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, to attend to “a personal matter.” The timing couldn’t be worse for Charles, the oldest monarch to take the British throne. “Becoming king is something Charles prepared for all his life, and now just when he’s finally getting used to the crown on his head he must step aside,” says the source.

Plus, his big plan to streamline the monarchy is backfiring spectacularly. “There simply aren’t enough senior royals to take on the responsibilities,” adds the source.

More Drama

Along with the health worries is a new batch of royal scandal. On February 25, Thomas Kingston (who dated Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton before marrying Charles’ second cousin Lady Gabriella Windsor) died via suicide. (The cause of death was ruled a “traumatic head wound” and a gun was found near his body.)

“It’s been one blow after another for the royal family,” says the source. “Thomas’ death has been a particularly painful one.”

A few days later it was revealed Prince Andrew’s unsavory friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will once again be making headlines with the release of grand jury transcripts from a 2006 investigation involving Epstein in early July.

“Andrew has shown little to no remorse over his association with Jeffrey,” says the source. Indeed, the 64-year-old was positively beaming repping the royals at Constantine’s memorial (another sign that royals are thin on the ground). “He might not be smiling once the public gets a look at the Epstein papers,” adds the source. “The palace is worried.”

Adding insult to injury, Kate’s black-sheep uncle Gary Goldsmith is cashing in by promising to spill all on the new season of the U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother. “Things just seem to be getting worse for the royals,” says the source. “It’s like a bad soap opera!”

Lashing Out

William’s at his breaking point. “With Kate recuperating from surgery and his father continuing cancer treatment, William’s been stretched thin,” says the source. “A lot of the responsibility has been heaped on him and he’s finding it increasingly stressful.”

The source says the dad of three was annoyed when Camilla bowed out of royal duties after just a few weeks. “Everything seems to be left to him,” continues the source. “William is exceptionally polite to staff and it’s not like him to snap at staffers but he’s human.”

Meanwhile, his wife is eager to get back in the game. The palace source says it was the future queen’s idea to go out in public on March 4, noting that she’s following Queen Elizbeth II’s edict: “I have to be seen to be believed.”

Inside Royal Family's ‘Turmoil’ Amid Kate Middleton's Absence
Chris Jackson / Staff

Adds the source: “She wanted to prove that there’s nothing mysterious going on and that she’s up and around and doing better.”

What’s Next

In a last-ditch effort, Harry offered his help but his olive branch was rejected. “There’s no way the family would take him up on that,” the source explains, adding that Harry’s spilling of family secrets has left permanent scars. “William wouldn’t hear of it, nor would Kate, thanks to the things Harry said about them in his memoir, Spare.”

The 39-year-old had flown to London to see his dad on February 7 but was essentially stonewalled while there. “Charles received him, but it was a brief meeting,” says the source. (The dad of two reportedly reached out to William ahead of his U.K. trip but didn’t make any headway.) After the cold reception, the source says Meghan, 42, is urging him to let it go.

“Meghan’s not immune to family estrangement. She broke ties with her father and survived and has told Harry he can, too.” There’s talk William is ready to officially step in for Charles — but for now, things remain in limbo. “They want to wait and see how well Charles responds to treatment,” says the source. “It’s a wait and see situation.

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