King Charles III has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace said Monday. Less than 18 months into his reign, he will suspend public duties but will continue with state business, and won’t be handing over his constitutional roles as head of state.
The palace said the cancer is not related to the King’s recent treatment for a benign prostate condition. It did not say what form of cancer the 75-year-old monarch has.
The palace said “a separate issue of concern was noted” during Charles’s treatment for an enlarged prostate last month.
“Diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer,” it said.
“His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties,” the palace said. “Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.”
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It said Charles “remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”
The palace added that the King “has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”
Charles became King in September 2022 when his mother Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96.
News of the King’s diagnosis comes as his daughter-in-law Catherine, Princess of Wales, recovers from abdominal surgery that saw her hospitalized for about two weeks.
Charles departed from royal tradition with his openness about his prostate condition. For centuries Britain’s royal family remained tight-lipped about health matters.
When U.K. monarchs had more power over state affairs, news of illness was withheld for fear it might weaken their authority. The habit of secrecy lingered after royals became constitutional figureheads.
The British public wasn’t told that Charles’s grandfather, King George VI, had lung cancer before his death in February 1952 at the age of 56.
U.K. political leaders sent messages of support for Charles on Monday. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: “Wishing His Majesty a full and speedy recovery. I have no doubt he’ll be back to full strength in no time and I know the whole country will be wishing him well.”
U.S. President Joe Biden, travelling in Las Vegas on Monday, said he had just learned about Charles’s diagnosis and said he hopes to speak with him, “God willing.”
“I’m concerned about him,” Biden told reporters.
Canada’s Gov. Gen. General Mary Simon said the King is “leading by example” and news of his diagnosis “will hopefully encourage and motivate those who are struggling with their own treatment.”
“We admire The King’s strength and determination as he confronts this disease,” she said.
“I, like Canadians across the country and people around the world, am thinking of His Majesty King Charles III as he undergoes treatment for cancer. We’re sending him our very best wishes — and hoping for a fast and full recovery,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.