Princess of Wales wears $28 earrings at Royal Festival Hall 1:12

(CNN) --

Prince William's decision to pull out of an important family gathering on Tuesday, and the lack of an explanation for it, has plunged the British royal family into a wave of gossip, speculation and wild conspiracy theories.

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Some of that is normal for a family that is never far from the headlines in the modern media age.

But the discourse reached a frenetic level this week, particularly in the unbridled realm of social media.

The Prince of Wales, William, and his wife, Kate.

As the event, a memorial service for William's late godfather, former King Constantine II of Greece, began on Tuesday at St George's Chapel in Windsor, royal sources revealed that the Prince of Wales would miss the event due to a personal matter. .

William, a source told CNN, had called the Greek royal family to inform them of his last-minute change of plans.

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Skipping events typically doesn't lead to this type of speculation.

If we go back two years, there simply wouldn't have been the same level of online speculation as in recent days.

But many are unsettled by the royals' seemingly endless series of recent headaches and health problems.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the fact that both King Charles III and Catherine – Princess of Wales – fell ill shortly afterwards, plus the fact that the public has not seen Kate since Christmas Day, have contributed to the speculation.


The series of devastating blows was further compounded by the sudden death of Thomas Kingston, the husband of the king's cousin Lady Gabriella, at the age of 45.

It is understood that William's absence was not linked to the news of Kingston's death, which was publicly revealed on the same day as Constantine's funeral.

An undated photograph provided by Buckingham Palace shows Lady Gabriella Kingston and her husband, Thomas, who died suddenly on Sunday.

(Alexandra Diez de Rivera/Buckingham Palace/Reuters)

A royal source declined to say exactly what had prevented William from attending the service.

Given this lack of clarity, his absence has been linked to that of his wife, Kate, who is still at home recovering from surgery.

Many saw the prince's recent return to royal duties as a sign that the prognosis was that the situation was improving rapidly.

Others have suggested that it should have been easy for the heir to the throne to join his family at Windsor Castle, as he only lives about five minutes away by car, at Adelaide Cottage, and his three children were at school when he took the event takes place.

If the role of the monarchy is presence, continuity and unity, the royal family offered a stark image when they showed up at the chapel with several key absences.

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It's worth emphasizing that the royal source told CNN that Kate is "continuing to make good progress" with her recovery.

And although the palace made it clear from the beginning that the Princess of Wales's recovery would take her away from public duties for several months after her abdominal operation, people are still trying to fill in the gaps.

Kensington Palace took an unusual step amid speculation about Kate's whereabouts and health, with a spokesperson saying Thursday that the palace "made clear in January the princess's recovery timelines and we will only provide significant updates. That guidance follows maintains".

(Right to left) Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, her husband Admiral Timothy Laurence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at the service for the late King Constantine II of Greece at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Tuesday .

(Jonathan Brady/Getty Images)

While William was not present at Tuesday's memorial service, his schedule has not been cleared of public events, and he returned to action on Thursday.

The palace has been trying to give out as much information without compromising medical privacy.

This is the challenge of an ancient monarchy operating in a transformed landscape, where people expect information immediately.

It's not always that the public is insensitive, but that people care and want to know why someone they are used to seeing has disappeared from public view.

As a society, we are used to having information at our fingertips and there is an instinctive desire to fill the gap.

An example of filling information gaps is well represented in Netflix's "The Crown."

It was initially based on historical records, but as the seasons moved closer to the present day, writers and producers were forced to dramatize moments for narrative purposes.

The reality is that no one, beyond those directly involved, knows exactly why William withdrew from this family event or how Kate feels on a day-to-day basis.

Recent events have highlighted that while the Welsh are public servants, they are also people vulnerable to the same struggles we all face.

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