British Royal Family

King Charles diagnosed with cancer, Buckingham Palace says

Author: Editors Desk Source: CBC News:
February 5, 2024 at 19:06

King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace says. The palace says the cancer is not related to the King's recent treatment for a benign prostate condition, but did not reveal what form of cancer he has.

King Charles III has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace said Monday. Less than 18 months into his reign, he will suspend public duties but will continue with state business, and won't be handing over his constitutional roles as head of state.

The palace said the cancer is not related to the King's recent treatment for a benign prostate condition. It did not say what form of cancer the 75-year-old monarch has.

The palace said "a separate issue of concern was noted" during Charles's treatment for an enlarged prostate last month.

"Diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer," it said.

"His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties," the palace said. "Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual."

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The King is being treated as an outpatient, the palace said.

It said Charles, who has generally enjoyed good health, "remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible."

The palace added that the King "has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer."

King Charles and wife Camilla walking out of the London Clinic.
King Charles waves as he leaves the London Clinic on Jan. 29 with Queen Camilla. He spent three nights at the hospital where he underwent a corrective procedure for an enlarged prostate. (Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images)

Royal family overstretched?

Charles became King in September 2022 when his mother Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96.

News of the King's diagnosis comes as his daughter-in-law Catherine, Princess of Wales, recovers from abdominal surgery that saw her hospitalized for about two weeks.

Catherine is still taking a break from royal duties as she recovers. Her husband, Prince William, who is heir to the throne, also took time off to help look after the couple's three children, but is due to preside over an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle and a charity dinner on Wednesday.

Charles took the throne intending to preside over a slimmed-down monarchy with fewer senior royals carrying out ceremonial public duties.

But with Charles and Catherine both temporarily sidelined, Prince Harry self-exiled to California and Prince Andrew largely banished from view because of his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the royal "Firm" risks becoming severely overstretched.

Prince Harry to visit King

The King personally called both William and Harry — as well as his siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — to share news of his health.

Harry, who quit his royal duties in 2020, has spoken to his father about the diagnosis and "will be travelling to U.K. to see His Majesty in the coming days," said the office of Harry and his wife, Meghan.

Political leaders sent messages of support. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: "Wishing His Majesty a full and speedy recovery. I have no doubt he'll be back to full strength in no time and I know the whole country will be wishing him well."

Source: British Royal Family (CBC)
Source: British Royal Family (CBC)

'We admire the King's strength and determination'

Canada's Gov. Gen. General Mary Simon said the King is "leading by example" and news of his diagnosis "will hopefully encourage and motivate those who are struggling with their own treatment."

"We admire The King's strength and determination as he confronts this disease," she said.

"I, like Canadians across the country and people around the world, am thinking of His Majesty King Charles III as he undergoes treatment for cancer. We're sending him our very best wishes — and hoping for a fast and full recovery," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

U.S. President Joe Biden, travelling in Las Vegas on Monday, said he had just learned about Charles's diagnosis and said he hopes to speak with him, "God willing."

"I'm concerned about him," Biden told reporters.

Charles departed from royal tradition with his openness about his prostate condition. For centuries Britain's royal family remained tight-lipped about health matters.

When U.K. monarchs had real power, news of illness was withheld for fear it might weaken their authority. The habit of secrecy lingered after royals became constitutional figureheads.

The British public wasn't told that Charles's grandfather, King George VI, had lung cancer before his death in February 1952 at the age of 56, and some historians have claimed that King George himself wasn't told he was terminally ill.

In the final years of Elizabeth's life, the public was told only that the queen was suffering from "mobility issues." The cause of her death was listed on the death certificate simply as "old age."

Pat Price, founder of the Catch Up With Cancer campaign, said millions shared the "collective concern" for the King's health.

"The King's openness about his battle with cancer is a powerful reminder that one in two of us may face cancer at some point in our lives," Price said.

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