The United Kingdom’s Princess of Wales has been spotted and filmed walking in public for the first time since December, partly quelling feverish online speculation about possible reasons for her recent absence from view.

Kensington Palace, the official royal residence of Prince William and his wife Kate, had said previously that the abdominal surgery the princess underwent in January was planned, and that she would be out of the public eye until April.

In recent weeks social media has been flooded with speculation about Kate’s health, prompting global headlines.

On Monday, The Sun newspaper’s website published the first video taken of the princess since Christmas Day, showing her looking “relaxed and happy” alongside her husband, on a shopping trip in Windsor.

The appearance follows Kate’s recent public apology for altering a photograph featuring her and her children, which had been shared for Mother’s Day. Several news agencies issued a “kill” notice on the image, because of the extent to which it had been manipulated.

The Sun quoted shopper Nelson Silva, who took the video, as saying the couple appeared “super relaxed”.

He said: “I noticed a couple choosing loaves of bread and the woman turned her face and I felt like I had seen the face before. It was familiar. I knew it from somewhere.

“Then William turned back and I thought, ‘hold on, I know this person’. I said to the staff, ‘I think it’s them’, as I paid.

“I went to my car and as they came out of the shop I just filmed them. I think they walked out through a gate out of the grounds. They just vanished and I didn’t see a car. I just wanted to share with my family footage and show just how normal they were.”

Reuters news agency said Kensington Palace declined to comment on the video, with a spokesperson only sharing that Kate’s recovery was progressing positively and confirming that her official engagements were postponed until after Easter, which falls on March 31.

Privacy emphasized

The palace office had previously emphasized the importance of her privacy and said it would only provide information when there were significant updates.

Explaining why it had published the video, The Sun said: “We have chosen to both report (Kate’s) appearance in yesterday’s paper, and show the footage today, in a bid to bring an end to what the palace has called the ‘madness of social media’.”

Amateur sleuths have been analyzing the princess’s recent activities, conjuring up wild conspiracy theories online.

A recent poll by Sky News shows more than half of people in the UK have seen the conspiracy theories on social media about why the princess is absent from public life, but that it “hasn’t dented trust in the royal family”.

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