King Charles III, 75, has been diagnosed with cancer and will be avoiding public events after being advised by his doctors to minimize in-person contacts, Buckingham Palace announced on Monday.
The announcement marks a significant departure from the past, when the monarch’s illnesses were often kept hidden from the public, according to royal experts.
“During the King’s recent hospital stay for benign prostate enlargement, a separate concern was identified,” the palace said in a statement emailed to the press. “Subsequent diagnostic tests have revealed a form of cancer.”
The statement did not specify the stage of the cancer.
Separately, Buckingham Palace stated that Charles does not have prostate cancer.
The news comes a week after both Kate and King Charles were discharged from a private London clinic following medical procedures. The King underwent a “corrective procedure” for an enlarged prostate, while Kate, 42, underwent unspecified abdominal surgery on January 17.
“His Majesty has now begun a regimen of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public engagements,” the statement added.
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According to the statement, the King chose to share his diagnosis partly to prevent speculation about his condition, but also “in the hope of aiding public understanding for all those around the world affected by cancer.”
Prior to his reign, Charles served as a patron for several cancer-related charities, and “in this role, His Majesty has often spoken publicly in support of cancer patients, their families, and the dedicated health professionals who care for them,” according to Buckingham Palace.
No further details about his treatment or prognosis are being disclosed, a palace spokesperson stated, but the King returned to London on Monday to commence outpatient care.
Sarah Gristwood, a royal biographer and historian, remarked that it was “remarkable” for the diagnosis to be announced at all, considering the royal family’s history of attempting to “keep any signs of ordinary human frailty behind closed doors.”
King Charles III Charles ascended the throne last May following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned until her passing at the age of 96. Aaron Chown / Pool via Getty Images “When Charles’ grandfather, George VI, was gravely ill, the severity of his condition was not only concealed from the public but also from the patient himself,” Gristwood commented regarding King George, who passed away in 1952. “Those were the attitudes of the time. Thankfully, things have now changed.”
Charles ascended the throne last May in a coronation ceremony held months after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth reigned until her death at the age of 96 in September 2022. She was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, with 70 years on the throne.
Kate is still in recovery, but her husband, William, Prince of Wales, is expected to resume his royal duties by attending the London’s Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner on Wednesday.
Kensington Palace previously indicated that the Princess of Wales is unlikely to return to her royal duties before Easter, March 31. No date has been specified for the King’s return to duties.
Buckingham Palace noted that many of the King’s scheduled engagements will need to be postponed or canceled, apologizing in advance for any inconvenience caused. Charles’ wife, Queen Camilla, will continue with her full public duties as he undergoes treatment.
Buckingham Palace has also emphasized that no counselors of state will be appointed, indicating that the King will continue to fulfill his duties, according to Craig Prescott, a law professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, specializing in the constitutional aspects of the monarchy.
“If the King is unavailable due to illness or is traveling overseas, counselors of state can be appointed to act on behalf of the King and carry out the formal, constitutional functions of the monarch, such as granting royal assent to legislation and handling his official correspondence,” Prescott stated.
A source close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, told NBC News that Harry had spoken with his father about the diagnosis.
“He will be traveling to the UK to see His Majesty in the coming days,” the source said.
Harry stepped back from his role as a senior member of the royal family in 2020 and has since resided in California with his wife and two children. He has made infrequent visits to Britain in recent years, citing concerns about security for his family and amid reports of a growing rift with his father and brother William.
He attended both his grandmother’s funeral and his father’s coronation.