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Kate Middleton Speaks Out for First Time amid Surgery Recovery in Personal Message

Kensington Palace announced on Jan. 17 that the Princess of Wales had "planned abdominal surgery"

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty Images</p> Kate Middleton opens Evelina London Children

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Kate Middleton opens Evelina London Children's Day Surgery Unit on Dec. 5, 2023.

Kate Middleton is feeling thankful.

The Princess of Wales, 42, thanked the public for their continued support amid her recovery from her abdominal surgery, as she also celebrated Mother's Day, often called "Mothering Sunday" in the U.K., through a post shared on Instagram Sunday.

Alongside a photograph of herself and her three kids — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5 — that was shot by husband Prince William, Princess Kate wrote, "Thank you for your kind wishes and continued support over the last two months."

"Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day," she added, signing off with a C at the end.

The photograph shows the royal sitting in a chair as her three children are gathered around her. It marked the first time that a family shot taken by William, 41, has been issued.

<p>The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram</p> Kate Middleton and her three kids.

The Prince and Princess of Wales/Instagram

Kate Middleton and her three kids.

Back in January, Kensington Palace announced that Princess Kate had “planned abdominal surgery” at The London Clinic that was "successful."

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," following medical advice.

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."

Earlier this month, the palace made a rare statement about Princess Kate's recovery after she became the subject of online speculation.

A spokesperson for the royal 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 that Princess Kate is "doing well."

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Related: Inside Kate Middleton's Last Public Appearances Before Abdominal Surgery

Princess Kate had surgery one week after her 42nd birthday, and three weeks after Christmas. The Princess of Wales had made her last public appearance on Christmas Day when she joined members of the royal family for their annual walk to church at Sandringham.

On Dec. 8, 2023, she hosted her third annual Together At Christmas concert at Westminster Abbey with a spotlight on her “Shaping Us” early childhood campaign as it celebrated its first year.

On Dec. 5, she pulled double duty with a morning visit to Evelina London Children's Hospital and an evening reception at Buckingham Palace for the Diplomatic Corps.

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After Kensington Palace shared the news about Kate's procedure, Prince William postponed public engagements to be by his wife's side and support their family, including maintaining as much normality as possible for their children.

Despite the palace's brief comment affirming that the Princess of Wales, 42, "continues to be doing well" in her recovery, and her recent sighting during a car ride with her mother, a palace insider characterizes the overall lack of information as complete "radio silence" concerning her condition.

Royal historian Amanda Foreman tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week's cover story, "She is their MVP, without any doubt," "She is in so many ways the most like the late Queen."

Adds royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, "She's so central to the monarchy and the future."

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