The British monarch has announced that he has been diagnosed with a form of cancer, which was detected during his recent treatment for a benign prostate condition. He has started regular treatments and has postponed his public duties for the time being.
How the King discovered his cancer
King Charles III, 75, underwent a procedure for an enlarged prostate at a private London hospital more than a week ago. He had chosen to go public about his prostate treatment, with the aim of encouraging more men to get prostate checks, the palace said at the time.
However, it was during this intervention that a separate issue of concern was noted and subsequently diagnosed as a form of cancer. The palace did not reveal the type of cancer or the stage of the disease, but said it was not prostate cancer.
The King informed both his sons personally about his diagnosis and Prince William was said to be in regular contact with his father. Prince Harry, who lives in the United States, spoke to his father and will be travelling to the UK to see him in the coming days.
The King’s treatment and outlook
The King returned to London from Sandringham in Norfolk on Monday morning and the palace says he has commenced treatment as an outpatient. Although he will pause his public events, the King will continue with his constitutional role as head of state, including paperwork and private meetings.
Buckingham Palace says the King “remains wholly positive about his treatment”. He will postpone his public engagements, with senior royals expected to stand in for him. The King “looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible”, the palace said.
There is a constitutional mechanism for when the head of state is unable to carry out official duties – in that circumstance “counsellors of state” can be appointed to stand in for the monarch. At present that includes Queen Camilla, Prince William, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, with Prince Harry and Prince Andrew no longer to be called on as non-working royals.
The King’s health and fitness regime
The King has been known for his healthy lifestyle and fitness regime, which he has maintained throughout his life. He is a keen gardener, walker and horse rider, and follows a balanced diet that includes organic produce from his own farms.
He has also been vocal about environmental issues and alternative medicine, and has advocated for a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing. He has supported various charities and initiatives that promote physical and mental health, such as the Prince’s Trust and the King’s Fund.
The King has rarely been ill or injured, and has recovered well from previous health scares. In 2018, he had a successful surgery to replace his right hip joint, and in 2019, he suffered a minor chest infection that forced him to cancel some engagements.
The public and political reaction to the King’s diagnosis
The King’s cancer diagnosis has shocked and saddened many people in the UK and around the world, who have expressed their support and sympathy for the monarch and his family. Many have praised the King for his courage and transparency in sharing his condition, and have wished him a speedy and full recovery.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished the King a “full and speedy recovery”, as did Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Sir Lyndsay Hoyle. Other political leaders, such as US President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also sent their messages of solidarity and friendship to the King.
The King was seen at a church service in Sandringham on Sunday, where he waved to crowds. He had received a warm welcome from the public during his recent visits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where he had emphasised the importance of unity and cooperation amid the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit.
The King ascended to the throne in 2022, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for 69 years. He is the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history, and has been praised for his dedication and service to the nation and the Commonwealth.