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King Charles Receives Cancer Diagnosis

At a recent prostate check, doctors attending to King Charles III of the United Kingdom noticed an unspecified issue in his body, according to a royal statement conveyed by the BBC. Subsequent medical tests revealed this issue to be a “form of cancer,” which has not yet been publicly identified; however, doctors said that it is not prostate cancer. 

According to the BBC, royal physicians have not released information on the King’s long-term health outlook. 

Matters of Duty

The King said that he would temporarily step down from “public-facing” duties to pursue treatment, and other high-ranking royal family members would take his place in official capacities during this time. He will continue to fulfill more private responsibilities, however.

The King’s public-facing duties likely include most ceremonial and diplomatic responsibilities, such as leading Remembrance Day observances, hosting foreign emissaries, and making state visits to other countries. Private responsibilities include weekly meetings with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and reviewing laws and other official papers. 

The replacement of the King in public-facing duties has a precedent in British law. If the King cannot execute his responsibilities, counselors of state may be named from among the royal family, except for non-working royals such as Princes Harry and Andrew. 

A Tradition Of Medical Secrecy

The British royal family has traditionally been reluctant to announce monarchs’ health issues, a tradition dating back to the time of absolute monarchy in the country. In those days, any sign of a king’s declining health allowed his political enemies to move against him. 

Even after the advent of constitutional and parliamentary government, royal health problems were typically not announced to preserve a monarch’s image of detachment from everyday concerns. The King’s mother, Elizabeth II, and grandfather, George VI, both declined to inform the public of their worsening health until they were near death.

King Charles’ announcement of his cancer diagnosis broke this trend, and he said that he chose to make the announcement to prevent excessive speculation and raise cancer awareness. 

A Link to Alternative Medicine

The cancer diagnosis announcement and its goal of cancer awareness is not the King’s first foray into health matters. 

From 1993 to 2010, during his time as Prince of Wales, he patronized The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, which promoted various forms of alternative medicine, including detox tinctures sold by the then-Prince’s company. These practices invited severe criticism from medical experts, and the charity was closed in 2010 due to fraud allegations. 

The World Reacts

King Charles informed his sons, Princes Harry and William, and his siblings, Princes Andrew, Edward, and Princess Anne, of the diagnosis before public announcement. Prince Harry is expected to travel from the United States to visit his father soon.

According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted that he wished the King a speedy recovery. American President Joe Biden commended King Charles’ courage in facing his diagnosis and said he hoped to speak to His Majesty soon.


Image credits: Carl Court/Getty Images, Hugo Burnand/Buckingham Palace

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