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Kate Middleton Gets Support from Mom Carole as Royal Is Spotted amid Surgery Recovery

The Princess of Wales hasn't been seen in public since Christmas, when she attended church with the royal family, as she recovered from a Jan. 16 operation

Kate Middleton is healing with the support of her family.

The Princess of Wales, 42, was seen in a car with her mom, Carole Middleton, on Monday in photos obtained by Backgrid. This marks the first time the royal has been publicly spotted since undergoing planned abdominal surgery in January.

A source previously told PEOPLE that in addition to her husband Prince William, Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, "will be there to lend support."

<p>BACKGRID (2)</p>

BACKGRID (2)

The Middletons live a short car ride away from the Prince and Princess of Wales' home base in Windsor, residing in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and are a constant presence in their grandchildren's lives, often having Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, over for sleepovers.

"Her parents are an enduring factor in the upbringing of their grandchildren," said a palace insider. “And they will be a reassuring presence when she goes back to Windsor to recuperate.”

<p>BACKGRID</p> Kate Middleton visits the National Portrait Gallery in London on June 20, 2023

BACKGRID

Kate Middleton visits the National Portrait Gallery in London on June 20, 2023

Related: Palace Addresses Rumors and Conspiracy Theories About Kate Middleton's Health in New Statement

The sighting comes after concerns regarding Princess Kate's welfare surged across the internet, fueling a wave of conspiracy theories, last week after Prince William pulled out of a scheduled appearance at the last minute.

The speculation prompted the palace to make a rare statement about the royal's recovery.

A spokesperson for Princess Kate said, "We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant." The spokesperson reiterated the princess is "doing well."

The last time Princess Kate stepped out in public was on Christmas when she joined the royal family for their traditional holiday church outing. She made her way to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on the royal family's Sandringham estate in Norfolk alongside Prince William and their three children.

<p>JOHN RAINFORD / BACKGRID</p> Kate Middleton with her family at her Christmas concert on Dec. 8, 2023

JOHN RAINFORD / BACKGRID

Kate Middleton with her family at her Christmas concert on Dec. 8, 2023

Related: Why Haven't We Seen Kate Middleton Since Her Abdominal Surgery?

Kensington Palace announced on Jan. 17 that Princess Kate underwent a "successful" abdominal surgery at The London Clinic the day prior. She remained at the hospital until Jan. 29 when she returned home to continue her recovery. The initial statement from the palace said she was "unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter."

Although the reason behind the abdominal surgery was not disclosed, PEOPLE understands that the issue is non-cancerous.

A source close to the royal household recently told PEOPLE that it was "sensible" for Princess Kate to take the necessary recovery time before returning to public duty.

"That is a great example to the rest of us, as you’re often told to get back to work as soon as possible, which can be damaging. It is good for all of us to see her taking the time, recovering properly and then coming back," the source said. "We can all learn from that."

<p>BACKGRID</p> Kate Middleton attends a Buckingham Palace reception on Dec. 5, 2023

BACKGRID

Kate Middleton attends a Buckingham Palace reception on Dec. 5, 2023

While the source said the issue "does sound serious," they expected her to "bounce back."

“It does sound serious with the length of time [she’s taking]. But she is in great hands and will have lots of care and support at home and is a fit young woman,” said the source. “I am sure she will bounce back."

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<p>BACKGRID</p> Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Outfit Moray on Nov. 2, 2023

BACKGRID

Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Outfit Moray on Nov. 2, 2023

While Prince William took time off after Princess Kate's surgery to help her recovery and take care of their three children, he has returned to royal duties. With King Charles largely out of the public eye following the news of his cancer diagnosis in early February, Prince William is expected to "step up" as the heir to the throne.

Last week, the heir to the throne visited the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London, the second of two recent outings to recognize both the rise in antisemitism and the human suffering in the Middle East, and spent St. David's Day with a series of engagements in Wales. The feast day included a shot of whiskey at The Turf pub in Wrexham with actor Rob McElhenney, who bought the Wrexham soccer team with Ryan Reynolds in 2021, and a sweet visit to a school.

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