How King Charles III’s Cancer Diagnosis Affects Britain’s Monarchy

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 05, 2024

Early on Monday morning, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III received a diagnosis of a form of cancer. The king has been receiving treatment for an enlarged prostate. However, the form of cancer he has is not prostate cancer.

What does this news mean for the royal family, the Crown, and the rest of the world? Let’s get into it.

King Charles Is Receiving Treatment for His Cancer

King Charles’s form of cancer has not been revealed to the public (via BBC). He will begin “regular treatments” as soon as possible. While the news is shocking for the relatively new king, Buckingham Palace says the king “remains wholly positive about his treatment.”

King Charles visits Tretower Court on July 5, 2018 in Crickhowell, Wales.

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Future public engagements will feature senior royals standing in for him as he undergoes treatment.

Both Sons Have Been Notified

According to the BBC, the king has informed both of his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, about his diagnosis. William is currently caring for his wife, Princess Catherine, after she recovers from her recent abdominal surgery.

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022 in London, England. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and ascended the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.

Source: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Harry, who is currently living in the United States, will be returning to the U.K. to visit his father in the upcoming days.

The King Will Continue to Perform Most of His Duties

On Monday morning, the 75-year-old king returned to London. The king will receive outpatient treatment, meaning he will undergo care without being admitted to a hospital.

King Charles III wearing a large crown and golden robes during his coronation

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While King Charles will not be attending public events, he will continue to serve as head of state. The king will be performing basic duties, such as paperwork and private meetings.

Who Represents the King in Situations Like This?

The royal family has rules in place for situations when the head of state is unable to carry out official duties. The counselors of state can be appointed to stand in for the king. In this case, Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William, Princess Anne, and Prince Edward are on standby.

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla continue to laugh after a bubble bee took a liking to Prince Charles during their visit to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on November 5, 2015 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The Royal couple are on a 12-day tour visiting seven regions in New Zealand and three states and one territory in Australia.

Source: Rob Jefferies/Getty Images

Since they are no longer working royals, the royal family can no longer call on Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.

King Charles Discovers His Cancer Diagnosis After His Prostate Procedure

The news of King Charles’ cancer diagnosis comes shortly after he had a prostate procedure at a private London hospital. The king decided to publicly share information about his treatment, aiming to inspire men to undergo regular prostate checks.

King Charles attends the WaterAid water and climate event at Kings Place on March 10, 2020 in London, England. The Prince of Wales has been President of WaterAid since 1991.

Source: Tim P. Whitby - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The king’s advocacy for prostate checks raised awareness about the issue, with the NHS reporting a surge in issues about prostate conditions.


The Form of Cancer Is Unknown at This Time to the Public

The public has not been informed about the form of cancer King Charles III has been diagnosed with or the stage it is in. According to the statement, the king wanted to avoid speculation that his condition would affect his work.

Scientist wearing blue latex gloves using a microscope

Source: Chokniti Khongchum/Pexels

Instead, he hopes his condition “may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”


King Charles' Diagnosis Comes Less Than a Year Into His Reign

King Charles III ascended the throne in May 2023 after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. After sitting for 70 years on the throne, becoming the longest-reigning monarch in Britain, Elizabeth passed away at the age of 96 years old.

Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth are shown here at their Windsor home.

Source: Getty Images

Charles was the longest-serving British heir apparent, surpassing Edward VII’s 59-year record. He is also the oldest person to succeed to the British throne.


The Public Was Concerned About King Charles' Age and Health

King Charles’ age has been a concern for many British citizens. Ascending the throne at 73 years old, many believed that Charles would not have a lengthy reign, leading to less stability and continuity in the monarchy.

King Charles III with Queen Camilla leaves The London Clinic on January 29, 2024 in London, England. The King has been receiving treatment for an enlarged prostate, spending three nights at the London Clinic and visited daily by his wife Queen Camilla.

Source: Karwai Tang/WireImage

While Charles seemed to be in good health, this recent news confirms the fears of the people.


The Royal Family Steps Up

While concerns about Charles’ ability to fulfill his duties effectively as he ages and continues to battle his current illness, it is important to remember that the monarchy’s strength lies in its symbolic nature, not the individual.

Buckingham Palace with a blue sky behind it and yellow and red flowers covering the lawn

Source: David Iliff/Wikimedia Commons

As long as Charles can fulfill his constitutional duties, all will be fine. It also helps that his counselors of state are there to assist the public.


Prince William Will Succeed After His Father

If Charles does die in the upcoming years, his eldest son, Prince William, will succeed him. Prince Harry is no longer in consideration for succession after he and his wife, Meghan Markle, gave up their royal duties to move to the U.S. with their children in January 2019.

Prince William, the Prince of Wales attends the unveiling of The Victoria Cross Commemorative Paving Stones representing each of Birmingham's 1st World War recepients at the Hall of Memory, Centenary Square on December 7, 2015 in Birmingham, England. Ten Stones were unveiled after a short service of memorial by The Bishop of Birmingham The Rt.Rev. David Urquhart with speeches by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Raymond Hassall and Brigadier Anderton-Brown.

Source: Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images

The Prince of Wales has returned to his duties after caring for Middleton, hosting a morning of investitures on behalf of his father.


Prince William Returns to His Royal Duties

“HRH Prince William truly understands our work and knows that every second counts in an emergency,” said Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, in a statement regarding William taking his father’s place at the upcoming fundraising gala for the London Air Ambulance (via Fox News).

Prince William, Prince of Wales, receives a Christmas gift at the Britannia Royal Naval College

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Jenkins continued, writing in the statement, “We know that with his help as well as the continued support of the public, our crews can reach those who need them most — serving the people of London 24 hours a day, every day of the year.”