King Charles has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and is stepping back from royal duties, Buckingham Palace said on Monday – days after he underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate.
The illness is unconnected with his recent treatment and is not prostate cancer, but it was spotted by doctors at The London Clinic, a private healthcare facility where he spent three nights before being discharged on 29 January.
His surgery coincided with a hospital stay for daughter-in-law Kate Middleton, who spent 11 nights in the same clinic following abdominal surgery, and came two weeks after Sarah Ferguson was diagnosed with skin cancer in what has been a difficult start to the year for the royal family.
The 75-year-old monarch remains in high spirits but will step back from public-facing duties while he has treatment.
A statement from the palace read: “During the King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer.
“His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties.
“Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake state business and official paperwork as usual.
“The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.
“His Majesty 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.”
A source close to Prince Harry confirmed he will fly from his home in California to visit his father in light of the news but it is not known if wife Meghan Markle, and children Archie, four, and Lilibet, two, will join him.
The family relocated to the United States after leaving royal duties in 2020 and have only returned on a handful occasions, such as the Queen’s funeral in September 2022.
Well-wishes for the King came from across the political spectrum, with prime minister Rishi Sunak tweeting: “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.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted on X, formerly Twitter: “On behalf of the Labour Party, I wish His Majesty all the very best for his recovery. We look forward to seeing him back to swift full health.”
Similar messages were also issued by leaders of each of the devolved governments and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, while former prime minister Boris Johnson wrote: “The whole country will be rooting for the King today. Best wishes to Charles III for a full and speedy recovery.”
Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden told reporters: “I’m concerned about him. Just heard about his diagnosis. I’ll be talking to him, God willing.”
Prior to his coronation, Charles was the longest-serving heir to the throne in history, and the cancer diagnosis is likely to be a painful professional setback.
Since becoming King, he has hit the ground running with a trio of overseas state visits, before hosting two incoming state visits as well as undertaking hundreds of public engagements – highlighting the fitness and vigour of a man in his 70s managing a challenging workload.
Prince William is due to return to official duties this week, beginning with an investiture, while his wife continues to recuperate at home following her abdominal surgery.
She is not expected to return to public duties until after Easter, but is said to be in good spirits at Adelaide Cottage, near Windsor Castle.