The surgery announcement from Kensington Palace expressed the Princess of Wales' wish to "maintain as much normality for her children as possible"
"I don't think she wanted to make more of a big thing of it than it already was. They’ll be rallying 'round in their own way and helping to look after her,” royal biographer Ingrid Seward exclusively tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.
Instead, Kate stayed connected to her children via FaceTime, which she and William regularly do when they are away from the children on royal tours.
Children are generally not allowed to visit the London Clinic without permission from the hospital for the safety of the patients and to keep infections at bay.
A patient who had abdominal surgery at the London Clinic last summer told PEOPLE he felt regret around having his son visit him as he found the experience "really scary."
Upon quietly returning to Adelaide Cottage, the family’s private residence near Windsor Castle after being discharged from the hospital on Monday, Princess Kate reunited with her three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5.
“I’m sure she’s utterly exhausted, but she’ll recover well,” Seward says of the Princess of Wales, 42.
Kensington Palace says Princess Kate is “making good progress," adding that she and Prince William are grateful to her medical team, “especially the dedicated nursing staff.”
The palace has not disclosed specifics about the nature of Princess Kate’s condition, but it is known to be noncancerous.
As the Princess of Wales embarks on her extended recovery, she’s not expected to resume public duties until at least Easter and will lean on her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, her sister Pippa Middleton and the children’s longtime nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo for support.
The close-knit family circle is poised to provide the care and assistance necessary for her to heal, and Prince William is leading the charge. The Prince of Wales, 41, cleared his calendar to be by his wife's side and support their family during this time.
Prince William is looking after the children alongside Borrallo, helping with school pickups and drop-offs. A close family friend says the Prince and Princess of Wales don’t have “a huge private staff,” and “as a result, William is really hands-on.”
“He doesn’t want any mistakes made with the next generation. He wants to give them a proper upbringing and lots of love. That is foremost in his mind,” the friend says.
Their family dynamic is “more like one we can all recognize,” adds a source close to the royal household.
With family as her focus, Kensington Palace said Princess Kate desired to “maintain as much normality for her children as possible” in the Jan. 17 statement announcing that she had surgery the day prior. Within their broader circle of family friends, there had been no indication that anything was wrong, and the carefully guarded news about Kate’s situation came as a surprise even to those who work closely with the royal family, PEOPLE understands.
Princess Kate's surgery came a week after her 42nd birthday, and shortly after her children returned to the classroom following a holiday break.
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As she recuperates at Adelaide Cottage with her family around her, there is confidence in her resilience.
“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,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE. “I am sure she will bounce back.”
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