Buckingham Palace disclosed on Monday that King Charles III, aged 75, has been diagnosed with cancer and will be refraining from public appearances following medical advice to minimize face-to-face interactions. This announcement marks a significant departure from past royal practices, where the health issues of monarchs were often shielded from public knowledge, according to experts in the field.
The palace revealed in an official statement that during a recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate concern was identified, leading to subsequent tests confirming a form of cancer. However, the statement did not specify the stage of the cancer. Notably, Buckingham Palace clarified that the king does not have prostate cancer.
Last week, both King Charles and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, were discharged from a private London clinic after undergoing medical procedures. The king underwent a corrective procedure for an enlarged prostate, while Kate, aged 42, underwent unspecified abdominal surgery on January 17.
The statement from the palace highlighted that the king has commenced a regimen of regular treatments and has been advised by medical professionals to postpone public engagements during this period. The disclosure of his diagnosis aims to prevent speculation and foster public understanding, particularly for those affected by cancer globally.
Before ascending to the throne, King Charles served as patron to several cancer-related charities, demonstrating a longstanding commitment to supporting cancer patients, their families, and healthcare professionals.
While no further details regarding the king’s treatment or prognosis have been disclosed, he has returned to London for outpatient care. Buckingham Palace has expressed regret for any inconvenience caused by the postponement or cancellation of the king’s planned engagements.
The announcement of the king’s diagnosis and his subsequent decision to limit public appearances underscore a departure from the historical tradition of concealing royal health matters. Sarah Gristwood, a royal biographer, noted the significance of this transparency, contrasting it with past practices where the severity of King George VI’s illness was concealed, even from the monarch himself.
King Charles III ascended the throne last May following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who held the throne for 70 years until her passing in September 2022.
While the king focuses on his treatment, Queen Camilla will continue with her full public duties. Buckingham Palace emphasized that no counsellors of state will be appointed, indicating that the king intends to continue fulfilling his constitutional duties.
Prince Harry, who resides in California with his family, is set to visit the UK to support his father in the coming days following the announcement of the king’s diagnosis. Despite stepping back from his role as a senior member of the royal family in 2020, Harry remains engaged with family matters, attending significant events such as his grandmother’s funeral and his father’s coronation.