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Catherine, Princess of Wales, Cancer Diagnosis Draws Londoners’ Sympathy

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The morning after Britain finally got some answers about what had kept Catherine, Princess of Wales, away from public view — that she is receiving treatment for cancer — the handful of news cameras set up on Saturday outside Kensington Palace were the only suggestion that anything was amiss.

The sun shone as Londoners went out for their morning runs in the surrounding park, children biked under budding trees and tourists waited for the famed palace, where Catherine and her family live, to open its doors to visitors.

As news of her illness filtered out after weeks of speculation and suspicion, many expressed their shock and concern for a well-liked member of the British royal family who is in line to one day be queen. Many also seemed to want to throw a protective arm around a woman whose every move has been scrutinized in her marriage to Prince William.

“I just hope for the best for her,” said Helen Mercer, 68, who was reading a book on a bench near the palace.

Ms. Mercer, a Canada native who lives in London, said she had grown up with admiration for the royal family. Both of her parents are British, and she said that while her daughter had told her it was not “cool” to be a royalist, she had a fondness for the House of Windsor.

“They’ve always just sort of been there,” she said, but added that she felt the wild speculation about Catherine had been sickening. “I do wonder what all those people that hopped on that bandwagon are feeling now,” she said. “I hope they feel terrible.”

The palace had urged the public and the news media to respect Catherine’s privacy as she recovered from a major abdominal surgery in January. But as the days drew into weeks, the rumor mill swirled — with conspiracy theories growing deeper and wilder — about what was keeping such a prominent member of the royal family out of view.

In a video statement on Friday evening, Catherine, 42, announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer, but did not specify the type and said that her focus now would be on her recovery and her family.

She is the second member of Britain’s royal family to be diagnosed with cancer in recent weeks. Buckingham Palace announced in February that her father-in-law, King Charles III, was being treated for cancer.

“Your heart goes out to William,” Ms. Mercer said on Saturday. “With his father and his wife both being diagnosed with cancer, it’s just so hard.”

On Friday evening, others also lamented the spotlight Catherine had fallen under in recent weeks.

“She is still just a human,” Aaron Viera, 33, a lifelong Londoner, said as he shared a drink with friends outside the Goat Tavern, just steps from Kensington Palace. “It’s just really sad that she has to go through this.”

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