King Charles III, 75, has been diagnosed with cancer and will avoid public events after his doctors advised him to minimize in-person contacts, Buckingham Palace announced Monday.
The announcement marks a striking change from the past, when the monarch’s ailments were often hidden from the public, according to royal experts.
““During the King’s recent hospital procedure for a benign enlarged prostate, another issue of concern was noted,” the palace said in an emailed statement. “Subsequent diagnostic testing has identified a form of cancer.”
The statement also did not specify at what stage the cancer was found.
Separately, Buckingham Palace said Charles did not have prostate cancer.
The news comes a week after Kate and King Charles were discharged from a private London clinic following medical procedures. The king underwent a “corrective procedure” for an enlarged prostate, while Kate, 42, underwent unspecified abdominal surgery on January 17.
“His Majesty began a regular treatment program today, during which doctors have advised him to postpone his public duties,” the statement added.
According to the statement, the king wanted to share his diagnosis partly to avoid speculation about his condition, but also “in the hope that it can help public understanding of all those around the world affected by cancer.”
Before becoming king, Charles served as a patron of several cancer-related charities and “in this capacity, Her Majesty has often spoken publicly in support of cancer patients, their loved ones and the wonderful healthcare professionals who help take care of them.” according to Buckingham Palace.
No further details are being shared about his treatment or prognosis, a palace spokesperson said, but the king returned to London on Monday to begin outpatient care.
Sarah Gristwood, royal biographer and historian, said it was “surprising” that the diagnosis was announced given the royal family’s history of trying to “keep any signs of ordinary human fallibility behind closed doors.”
“When Charles’s grandfather, George VI, was very seriously ill, the seriousness of his condition was hidden not only from the public but from the patient himself,” Gristwood said of King George, who died in 1952. “Those were the attitudes of time. Fortunately, now things have changed.”
Charles ascended the throne last May in a coronation ceremony held months after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth reigned until her death at the age of 96 in September 2022. She was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, with 70 years on the throne.
Kate is still recovering, but her husband, William, Prince of Wales, will return to royal duties by attending the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner on Wednesday.
Kensington Palace previously said the Princess of Wales is unlikely to return to royal duties before Easter on March 31. No date was specified for the king’s return to his duties.
Buckingham Palace noted that many of the king’s planned engagements will have to be postponed or cancelled, and apologized in advance to anyone who suffered inconvenience as a result. Charles’s wife, Queen Camilla, will continue with all her public duties while he receives treatment.
Buckingham Palace has also emphasized that no state councilors will be appointed, a sign that the king will continue to carry out his duties, said Craig Prescott, a law professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, who specializes in the constitutional side of the monarchy. . .
“If the king is unavailable due to illness or is traveling abroad, then councilors of state may be appointed to replace the king and take on the formal and constitutional functions of the monarch: things such as giving royal consent to legislation and going to through their red boxes,” Prescott said.
A source close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, told NBC News that Harry spoke to his father about the diagnosis.
“He will travel to the UK to see Her Majesty in the coming days,” the source said.
Harry stepped down as a senior member of the royal family in 2020 and has since taken up residence in California with his wife and two children. He has visited Britain sparingly in recent years, expressing concern about the lack of security for his family and amid reports of a widening rift with his father and brother William.
He was present at both his grandmother’s funeral and his father’s coronation.