King Charles to recuperate at Sandringham after cancer diagnosis

Palace says king remains ‘wholly positive’ as Prince Harry returns to UK to see his father

Britain’s King Charles smiled and waved to passersby on Tuesday as he was seen in public for the first time since it was revealed he was suffering from a form of cancer and as his estranged younger son Prince Harry flew to Britain to see him.

Buckingham Palace announced on Monday that Charles (75), on the throne for less than 18 months since the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth, had been diagnosed with the disease and would postpone his public engagements to undergo treatment.

The king waved to passersby on Tuesday afternoon as he was driven the short distance from his Clarence House home in central London to Buckingham Palace. He and his wife, Queen Camilla, then took a helicopter to his Sandringham estate in rural eastern England to begin his recuperation.

Shortly before the king’s departure, Prince Harry, who has fallen out with the rest of the royal family since he stepped down from royal duties almost four years ago, was pictured arriving at Clarence House, and had a brief reunion with his father according to newspaper reports.


However, a royal source said there were no plans for Prince Harry to see his elder brother, heir-to-the-throne Prince William, during his visit to Britain.

The palace has said the king was remaining “wholly positive”, and prime minister Rishi Sunak earlier on Tuesday said the cancer had been caught early.

Despite the diagnosis, the king is planning to continue with much of his private work as monarch including his weekly audience with the prime minister and dealing with state papers. Mr Sunak said he was in regular contact with the king. “That will of course continue as normal and we’ll crack on with everything,” he said.

The cancer was discovered when the king stayed three nights in hospital last month where he underwent a corrective procedure for a benign enlarged prostate. Beyond confirming it was not prostate cancer, the palace has not given any further details.

The royal family usually keep medical matters private, but the palace said the king had chosen to go public as he was patron of a number of cancer-related charities.

While the king will receive expert private care, his diagnosis will draw attention to Britain’s rising cancer waiting times within the state-run National Health Service (NHS) which is widely regarded as being in crisis.

Survival rates for cancer in Britain lag those of other European countries for nine out of 10 of the most common types of the disease, according to an NHS Confederation report published in January.

The diagnosis, which has dominated British media since the announcement was made, is another personal blow for the king during his year and a half on the throne.

Early last year, Prince Harry published his autobiography Spare, which contained damning revelations about his father and elder brother, while the king has also had to contend with ongoing allegations against his brother Prince Andrew relating to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Harry, who quit royal duties in 2020, travelled back to Britain from California where he lives with his American wife Meghan and two children to see his father after the king told him and other immediate family of his diagnosis.

The king’s cancer revelation comes as Kate, the Princess of Wales and wife of heir William, recuperates at home after spending two weeks in hospital following planned abdominal surgery for an unspecified but non-cancerous condition.

She is not expected to return to public duties until after Easter and the absence of the senior figures will put pressure on the other working royals to perform extra engagements.

The king has always been keen to have a more slimmed-down monarchy but with his younger brother Prince Andrew and Prince Harry no longer involved, all those who carry out royal engagements are aged over 50 apart from Prince William and the Princess of Wales, with some now in their 80s.

His sister, Princess Anne, often tops the list for being the busiest royal, followed by the king.

Royal biographer Matthew Dennison said the king, as a workaholic, would be impatient to return to “the everyday business of the public side of monarchy”. – Reuters