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Kate Middleton to Receive Tribute from Irish Guards at St. Patrick's Day Parade Despite Missing Event

The Princess of Wales, who is recovering from her abdominal surgery, will not be at the annual parade despite her role as honorary Colonel of the Irish Guards

Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton at the 2023 St. Patrick
Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton at the 2023 St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards

The soldiers of the Irish Guards are sending their best wishes to their regimental Colonel Kate Middleton as she recovers from surgery.

The Princess of Wales, 42, often celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with the with the guards. But on Sunday, Princess Kate and her husband, Prince William, will miss the annual parade as she continues her recuperation from abdominal surgery out of the public eye.

The Irish Guards will still have the Princess of Wales in their thoughts, a source tells PEOPLE, and wish her well in her recovery. They are planning to send her best wishes and give three cheers to her at the end of their celebratory parade at Mons Barracks in Hampshire this weekend, PEOPLE understands.

Even before Kate became honorary Colonel of the Irish Guards following the death of Queen Elizabeth, she traditionally attended the holiday parade and handed out shamrocks alongside Prince William, 41, who was the previous Colonel. Queen Elizabeth named her grandson as honorary Colonel of the Irish Guards in 2011, just two months before Kate and William's royal wedding, but he became Colonel of the Welsh Guards in 2022, coordinating with his new title as the Prince of Wales.

Shutterstock Kate Middleton attends St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards in 2023
Shutterstock Kate Middleton attends St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards in 2023

Related: Shamrock Chic! See Kate Middleton's Best St. Patrick's Day Looks Through the Years

Princess Kate's usual role of issuing the shamrocks for the guards to pin on their uniforms will be carried out by Lady Ghika, wife of the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, Major General Sir Christopher Ghika. (A British army source underlines that historically it isn’t always a royal who is on hand to carry out the duty.)

Lady Ghika will step forward to present the shamrock to officers and warrant officers, who will in turn issue it along the ranks.

The parade will conclude with a march-past where the Regimental Lieutenant Colonel, Major General Sir Christopher Ghika, will take the salute. The ceremony ends with the rousing three cheers for their royal Colonel Kate before the guards and their families retire for some Guinness and a lively lunch.

This year marks the first time in nearly 12 months that a full contingent of Irish Guardsmen (and Irish Guards Pipes and Regimental Mascot 3-year-old Irish Wolfhound, Seamus) will come together for a parade.

CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton attends the St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards in 2023
CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Kate Middleton attends the St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards in 2023

Commanding Officer James Aldridge said in a statement, "St. Patrick’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the friendships that are so fundamental to our Regimental ethos and identity.”

He added that they were "really looking forward" to welcoming the soldiers and their families to the parade.

“We will raise a glass to those unable to attend this year, especially those deployed in Africa and elsewhere," he said.

Karwai Tang/WireImage Princess Kate handing out shamrocks at the St. Patrick's Day celebration in March 2023
Karwai Tang/WireImage Princess Kate handing out shamrocks at the St. Patrick's Day celebration in March 2023

Related: A Complete Timeline of Kate Middleton's Abdominal Surgery and Recovery

The Irish Guards will take center stage again in June when they will be Trooping the Colour at the annual parade that celebrates the British monarch's birthday as well as the review of the week earlier. With Princess Kate recovering and King Charles undergoing treatment for cancer, it is not confirmed yet which members of the family will be in attendance that day, but Kate is expected back on public duty after Easter.

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In a speech at last year's parade, Princess Kate said it was a "true honor" to be the Colonel of the Irish Guards.

Samir Hussein/WireImage Princess Kate and Prince William with the Irish Guards at the St. Patrick's Day celebration in March 2023
Samir Hussein/WireImage Princess Kate and Prince William with the Irish Guards at the St. Patrick's Day celebration in March 2023

"I am here to listen to you, to support you, and to champion you in all you do – this is a responsibility I do not take lightly," she said.

"I look forward to spending more time with you and your families, seeing your commitment to duty and service in all you do. Before I close, however, I want to thank Colonel William. He has always talked about his fierce pride for this Regiment. I know he will continue to support us all in the work we do," Princess Kate continued. "Finally, I would like to wish you all, a very happy St. Patrick's Day."

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