Britain’s King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment, according to Buckingham Palace. The 75-year-old monarch will suspend public engagements but will continue with state business and won’t hand over his constitutional roles as head of state. The palace did not disclose the form of cancer the king has, but said it is not related to his recent treatment for a benign prostate condition. Charles “remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”
Charles became king in September 2022 when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. News of the king’s diagnosis comes as his daughter-in-law Kate, Princess of Wales, recovers from abdominal surgery that saw her hospitalized for about two weeks. 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 slimmer monarchy with fewer senior royals carrying out ceremonial public duties. With Charles and Kate 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.
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 royal duties in 2020, has spoken to his father about the diagnosis and will be traveling to the UK to see His Majesty in the coming days.
UK political leaders sent messages of support, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeting “Wishing His Majesty a full and speedy recovery.” U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern about Charles’s diagnosis and expressed hope to speak with him, “God willing.”
Charles’s openness about his prostate condition departed from royal tradition, as the British public was not told that his grandfather had lung cancer before his death in February 1952, and some historians have claimed that the king himself was not told he was terminally ill.