Four-year-old rumors that Prince William had an affair with Lady Rose Hanbury are gaining some mainstream traction in 2024.

Never heard these rumors before? Here’s some background: Per Cosmopolitan, everything started in March 2019, when The Sun published a report that Kate Middleton had a “terrible falling out” with her close friend Rose Hanbury (a.k.a. the Marchioness of Cholmondeley). At the time a source allegedly claimed Prince William wanted to “play peacemaker” between the pair, so that he and Middleton could remain friends with Hanbury and her husband, David Cholmondeley.

However, some believed the falling out could be linked back to a tryst between William and Rose, among them British columnist Giles Coran, who tweeted (and later deleted) that “everyone knows about the affair.” The Daily Beast then reported that “pressure was applied by the palace” to have the tweet deleted, though you can see a screenshot here.

Now affair rumors are being dredged back up as the internet spirals over Kate Middleton’s months-long absense from the public eye. Kensington Palace announced in January that the Princess of Wales was taking a step back to recover from “planned abdominal surgery,” but a photo-editing scandal in March has only fueled conspiracy theories that something else is going on with the future Queen of England.

One popular conspiracy theory is that Kate and Will are heading for divorce and the UK press is “soft-launching” his next relationship with Hanbury by posting stories about the Marchioness.

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The theory seemed to resonate enough for Stephen Colbert to mention the rumors in his opening monologue on March 12. “The kingdom has been all a flutter about the seeming disappearance of Kate Middleton,” Colbert said. “Well, now internet sleuths are guessing that Kate’s absence may be related to her husband, and the future King of England, William, having an affair.”

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