Palace Insiders Reportedly Mistook Signs Of King Charles' Illness For Grief

The royal family faced some serious health scares in early 2024, most notably the cancer diagnosis of its ruling monarch, King Charles III. He initially went into the hospital to have a "corrective procedure" for an enlarged prostate, something that can be benign but is still important to address. The unexpected news that he has cancer came following his discharge, although a source clarified to CNN that the cancer is not in his prostate. Prior to surgery, the king was apparently experiencing some symptoms related to one or both conditions, although the palace didn't reveal what those symptoms were.

Now, those who are close to the monarch are wondering if they could have missed signs that pointed to his serious health condition. One palace insider seemed to echo the rest of the world's sentiments, telling People, "I was really shocked when I heard it." Similarly, another source who claims to be quite familiar with the king confessed: "He has not looked himself. I put it down to grief — he'd had two deaths close together — but maybe he wasn't well, without realizing so. It would take it out of him."

The insider was referring to the loss of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 and the loss of Charles' father, Prince Philip, in April 2021. Those devastating moments, coupled with the enormous responsibility of taking over the monarchy, could have been incorrectly cited as the source of Charles's apparent symptoms.

He may want to continue sweeping it under the rug

The motto "never complain, never explain," has long been associated with the royal family, and King Charles III may subscribe to that very approach when it comes to his cancer diagnosis. When he and Camilla attended church service a day before the official announcement of his health condition, he looked to be in good spirits, waving to those who had gathered near the cathedral. Indeed, an insider revealed to People, "He will want to get on with the job," referring to Charles's desire to operate under a business-as-usual mindset. After all, he only ascended to the throne nine months ago.

However, they continue to point out that everything depends on the prescribed treatment, which may necessitate stepping away from royal duties for much longer than he hoped. At the moment, everything is still very much up in the air. Kensington Palace has stated that the king will be undergoing regular treatments and will put his public royal responsibilities on hold temporarily. Their statement concluded that the monarch is "wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible."

We have to imagine the diagnosis would be a hard pill to swallow for the septuagenarian who has dutifully waited most of a lifetime to become king. It remains to be seen if he will really take time off from public events and how the palace will handle the side effects of his ongoing treatment.

Charles isn't the first royal to have cancer

Perhaps unsurprisingly, other members of the royal family have had cancer. George VI, who was Charles's grandfather on his mother's side, was diagnosed with lung cancer. In 1951, it was reported that his pneumonectomy, the surgical term for removing a lung, was due to abnormalities, although he really had a carcinoma. The known heavy smoker was not alone — Charles's maternal grandmother was also rumored to have been diagnosed with colon cancer in the latter half of her life. The Queen Mother had surgery as well, at age 66, to remove a tumor. Some have even speculated that Charles' mom, the late queen, faced a cancer diagnosis at some point, too, though these rumors have not been confirmed.

The reason why Charles' announcement may seem so much more shocking is that the royal family has previously been very hush-hush about private affairs and tries to hide health issues in general, including cancer diagnoses. It's reported that the reigning king is one of the first to publicly admit he is currently facing cancer and clue the public into the fact that he'll need to undergo treatment.

However, it does seem to align with Charles's vision of a newer, more modernized institution. His statements that he wants a slimmed-down monarchy, to spend less on things like his coronation, and to open places like Buckingham Palace to the public more often could point to an overall more transparent approach to royal life.