King Charles ‘reduced to tears’ by public support as he returns to work after cancer diagnosis

King Charles has been pictured at work for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer, as he held an audience with Rishi Sunak at Buckingham Palace.

The 75-year-old monarch met the prime minister late on Wednesday afternoon, marking a return to their weekly encounters to discuss matters of government.

It is the first time the King has been filmed carrying out official duties since his shock diagnosis, which has seen him withdraw from public-facing engagements as he undergoes treatment.

“Wonderful to see you looking so well,” said Mr Sunak, with the King jokingly replying: “It’s all done with mirrors.”

The King spoke of being overcome with emotion at the outpouring of support from the public, telling Mr Sunak: “I’ve had so many wonderful messages and cards. It’s reduced me to tears most of the time.”

Rishi Sunak told the monarch ‘We’re all behind you’ during a meeting at Buckingham Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak told the monarch ‘We’re all behind you’ during a meeting at Buckingham Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

After greeting the King with a handshake, Mr Sunak told him: “We’re all behind you. The country is all behind you.”

They also discussed the spotlight that has been shone on cancer charities, with the King describing the organisations as “wonderful”.

Since announcing that he had begun outpatient treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer just over two weeks ago, Charles has continued to deal with his red boxes of state papers behind the scenes, and has been seen attending church services at Sandringham.

Before his appointment with the prime minister, he held an in-person meeting of the privy council at the royal residence, where attendees included the lord president of the council Penny Mordaunt and a selection of other ministers who are privy counsellors.

Traditionally, the King and privy counsellors stand throughout the meeting as a matter of etiquette, but Buckingham Palace is yet to comment on whether the rule was observed this afternoon.

Charles met with Mr Sunak shortly afterwards, the audience coming just a day after the King’s son and heir the Prince of Wales risked controversy by issuing a strongly worded plea for peace in Gaza.

The King, who only acceded to the throne 17 months ago, has faced a difficult start to 2024, with a three-night hospital stay for a procedure relating to an enlarged prostate. His cancer – said not to be prostate cancer – was discovered while he was in hospital.

Meanwhile, his daughter-in-law the Princess of Wales is recovering after abdominal surgery, but is not expected to go back to official duties until after Easter.