King Charles treated for cancer in new health scare for monarchy

King Charles III is receiving treatment for an unspecified form of cancer, in the latest health scare for the British royal family less than a year-and-a-half after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The cancer was discovered during the 75-year-old monarch’s hospital stay late last month for treatment for an enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace said in a statement late Monday. It didn’t disclose what type of cancer was found, except to rule out any connection to what it said was benign prostate condition.

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“The king is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure,” Buckingham Palace said. “He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”

While the palace said that King Charles would continue “state business and official paperwork,” it said that he had been advised by doctors to suspend public duties. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led political leaders from across the UK in wishing the king a speedy recovery.

US President Joe Biden also expressed his concern and said he would seek to speak with the king, who he met most recently in the UK in July.

The British royal family, whose longevity was symbolised by Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign, has been beset by health scares in recent weeks. Besides Charles’s cancer treatment, Princess Catherine, 42, the wife of heir-to-throne Prince William, had surgery last month for an undisclosed abdominal condition. William and Catherine have three children: George, Charlotte and Louis.

While the relative political stability enjoyed by Britain during recent centuries is often cited by defenders of the monarchy, the episode underscores how much of that rests on the good health of a small group of people. The princess of Wales’s hospital stay prompted William, 41, to also suspend public appearances, suddenly leaving three of the most famous royals out of the public eye.

King Charles remains the head of state of 14 other Commonwealth realms, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Charles and Queen Camilla planned to visit Australia and New Zealand, when they would also attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Samoa in October, according to British newspaper reports.

William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, has spoken to the king about the diagnosis and will travel to the UK from California to see his father in the coming days, the Press Association news agency reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The trip will be closely watched for signals whether concerns about the king’s health would help ease a public feud between William and Harry, who stepped back from official royal duties and moved to the US.

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Charles ascended to throne after his mother’s death in September 2022, after waiting a record-breaking seven decades to become king. He was formally crowned in May during a service in Westminster Abbey.

King Charles last appeared in public outside a church service in Sandringham in Norfolk on Sunday, where he has one of his residences. Although he will pause his public engagements, the king will continue in his constitutional role as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces.

“I know the whole country will be wishing him well,” Sunak said on X, formerly Twitter. Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and opposition leader Keir Starmer were among those who wished the king a speedy recovery.

Buckingham Palace said the king had chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and to improve public understanding for people around the world affected by cancer. His office had similarly said Charles informed the public about his prostate diagnosis to encourage men to get checks.

© 2024 Bloomberg

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