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King Charles III Diagnosed With Cancer - What Does This Mean For Royal Duties?

King Charles III announced on Monday 5th February 2024 that he had been diagnosed with cancer following a recent unrelated hospital procedure.

The announcement came following a recent visit to a private London Clinic to treat a “benign prostate enlargement” whereby “a separate issue of concern was noted.”

In a statement released to the Royal Family’s Instagram account on Monday evening, The King is said to have been “advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties.”

According to information on the NHS website, an enlarged prostate is a condition that typically affects how a person urinates. The associated symptoms include difficulty urinating, an increased frequency of urination, and difficulty emptying the bladder due to restriction of the urethra where urine passes through. The condition, which is not usually considered a serious health threat, is common in men over the age of 50.

Despite widely held beliefs, the risk of developing prostate cancer or other types of cancers is no greater in men with enlarged prostates.

The King said in his announcement that he had chosen to share his diagnosis to minimise speculation surrounding his future absences and in the hope that it would help those affected by cancer through better public understanding.

He will continue his treatment as an outpatient.

The news of Charles’ initial hospitalisation came shortly after a similar announcement that HRH The Princess of Wales would be undergoing a “planned abdominal surgery” in a statement from Kensington Palace. The Princess is currently recuperating at home after a 14-day stay in the hospital. Her husband, Prince William, returned to his first public duty on Wednesday 7th, 2024 at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle after a three-week absence to support his wife.

As two senior members of the Royal Family are temporarily absent from official duties, there is speculation over who will take over their engagements. Officially, there are constitutional mechanisms that dictate who can be appointed in the event that the Monarch is unable to carry out their obligations. These include the “Counsellors of State”, whose role arose as part of the 1937 Regency Act, and customarily included the Monarch’s spouse and the first four adults in the line of succession. These constitutionally include Queen Camilla, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of York, and Princess Beatrice.

In 2022, King Charles asked Parliament to amend the rules to add two more royals to this list, after a backlash arose as none of the officially designated “Counsellors of State” are ‘working royals’. Working royals are those who undertake official engagements on behalf of the Royal Family. The change was also necessary after outrage over the inclusion of the now disgraced Duke of York whose links to paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein led to an out-of-court settlement in 2022 against him by accuser Virginia Giuffre. He had previously lost his titles and the right to use HRH, His Royal Highness.

Now, only ‘working members’ will be called up to act in the capacity of ‘Counsellors of State’. Currently, those more likely to be delegated include Queen Camilla, Prince William, the Princess Royal and Prince Edward. The latter two are the most recent additions. Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, is often accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Edinburgh, who herself is a ‘working royal’ as a Patron of over 70 charities and organisations also carrying out individual engagements. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also carry out public activities as ‘working members’ of the Royal Family, with the Duke associated with over 150 charities and organisations, and therefore may also increase their activities.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday 6th 2024, to express how he was left “shocked and sad” by the announcement by The King but remains positive that it was “caught early”.

According to BBC News, King Charles is set to continue private engagements related to his role as Monarch, including weekly audiences with the Prime Minister and associated paperwork.


Editor: Vidhi


Photo Credit: LBC/RoyalFamily

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