Journalist and author of The Diana Chronicles Tina Brown thinks the monarchy’s future lies in the hands of Princess Kate Middleton.

“Catherine is the most popular member of the royal family after William,” Brown wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times, published on March 25. “The future of the monarchy hangs by a thread, and that thread is her.”

Brown’s comments were published weeks after intense speculation surrounding Kate’s whereabouts after she had stepped out of the public eye for a planned medical procedure. In a March 22 statement, the Princess of Wales, 42, announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer and was in the early stages of chemotherapy treatment, which “came as a huge shock,” according to the royal.

“Kate went in for abdominal surgery and then they found out she had cancer,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly at the time.

One month before Kate’s diagnosis, King Charles III had been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer, as well. The king, 75, stepped back from the full scope of his duties in February, with Queen Camilla stepping in for some of his public appearances, including a visit to Northern Ireland last month.

“Help from other family members is scant,” Brown wrote in March, though she noted Charles’ sister, Princess Anne, and Camilla as the exceptions. “The slimmed-down monarchy that Charles always promoted is suddenly looking very lean indeed.”

Since revealing her diagnosis, Kate and Prince William have largely remained out of the spotlight. Charles has continued to ease up on public-facing duties as he undergoes weekly treatment for his disease. Brown also noted that “Charles’s cancer has put William, 41, and Catherine in frightening proximity to ascending the throne,” which is allegedly causing the couple “intense anxiety.”

For the first time ever, Charles called on brother Prince Edward and his wife Duchess Sophie to step in for him during a military event at the palace on Monday, April 8. The royal couple joined French Ambassador to the UK Hélène Duchêne for a historic changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

On March 31, Charles made an appearance at Easter Sunday church service at Windsor Castle and greeted the crowd outside of St. George’s Chapel. In response to royal fans saying “get well soon,” the king replied, “I’m doing my best.”

Despite family members stepping in for certain duties, Charles has reportedly told royal aides that he is ready for a trip to Australia later this year. “The king is raring to go after a significant amount of time off due to his cancer diagnosis,” an insider told UK’s The Sun.

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