King Charles will carry on with his Royal duties while being treated for cancer by reviewing paperwork, signing documents and holding private meetings – but some may take place via Zoom calls.
Charles, 75, received a shock cancer diagnosis just 17 months into his reign as King while undergoing his recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement.
The monarch apologised for the decision to postpone his forthcoming public duties but will continue with his constitutional roles in private.
Royal biographer Robert Hardman told Radio 4 the King’s roles will reflect those of the royal family during Covid, which saw more meetings take place via FaceTime and Zoom calls.
He said: ‘Of course we can’t see the King out and about. I think his doctors, his family don’t want him going into rooms full of hundreds of people [with] germs that may or may not be there.
‘They’ll want to keep things very much hermetically sealed in a sense but that doesn’t stop you doing things.’
Mr Hardman said meetings will be increasingly ‘Zoomed’ in order for the King to continue with ‘business as usual’ from the comfort of his private spaces.
King Charles will carry on with his Royal duties while being treated for cancer by reviewing paperwork, signing documents and holding private meetings
King Charles III smiles at his desk at Balmoral Castle during his Coronation year
Royal biographer Robert Hardman (pictured) told Radio 4 the King’s constitutional roles will likely be on Zoom instead of seeing the King in rooms full of people
‘At the moment we’re seeing a fairly upbeat approach I think, it’s a case of business as usual as much as it can be business as usual,’ he said.
Mr Hardman explained there will be moments when King Charles’ absence will be noted – possibly on Commonwealth Day in March – but the ‘day to day running of monarchy will not really change’.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was ‘shocked and sad’ by the King’s cancer diagnosis but will maintain ‘regular contact’ with Charles.
‘Thankfully this has been caught early and now we’re wishing that he […] gets the treatment that he needs and makes a fully recovery and that’s what we’re all hoping and praying for,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘I’m of course in regular contact with him and we’ll continue to communicate with him as normal.’
Charles’ ‘behind the scenes’ work is set to continue, meaning he will keep up with paperwork, signing documents and private meetings with Mr Sunak.
If unable to complete his constitutional roles a mechanism will come into play, meaning other senior members of the royal family will act on the King’s behalf. These people include Queen Camilla, Prince William, Prince Edward and Princess Anne – excluding Prince Harry and Prince Andrew who are not working members of the royal family.
However, some have hoped the King’s diagnosis will ignite a reconciliation between Charles and his youngest son Prince Harry, who flew to London to visit his father from his California home.
Mr Hardman said: ‘In times of crises families do come together, and I think everyone will be happy to see that.
‘I think there is a sort of sense of business as usual going on and that’s very much a message that the palace is trying to put out, but if along the way we can see some bridges being built, then that’s got to be a good thing.’
Mr Hardman said meetings will be increasingly ‘Zoomed’ in order for the King to continue with ‘business as usual’
The King (pictured at the Commonwealth Day Service in 2023) could miss out on a number of upcoming royal engagements after being advised to postpone his public-facing duties following his cancer diagnosis
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Hardman noted the differences between the King and the late Queen Elizabeth, saying: ‘I think it was always going to be his approach to the job. If you think back to 1952 we didn’t hear the Queen say anything for 10 and a half months.
‘With Charles, he had gone running around the country talking to people. He is comfortable with a greater degree of transparency.
‘He ploughs into crowds – he is of his generation. He is more comfortable with talking about this than the generations before him.’
Former Royal’s Communications Secretary Julian Payne said the King will likely be ‘deeply frustrated’ by the limitations forced upon him by his diagnosis.
‘I think from a personal perspective, he will be deeply frustrated. His work schedule is punishing and he really enjoys being out and meeting people and having the chance to speak up on causes that he cares about on representing the nation,’ he said.
‘He will find that difficult. The reality of course is the machinery of state continues, the red boxes will come, the meetings with the PM will happen and the Privy Counsellors.
‘That side of things will continue but he will be itching to get back to things as quickly as he can.’
He added: ‘He’ll be absolutely chomping at the bit to get back out as quickly as he can.’
Roya Nikkhah for The Times said: ‘He won’t want to step back. If he can continue with his duties… he’s not going to want to step back if he doesn’t have to.
‘It’ll be about other members of the RF picking up the slack while he can’t be on public duties. The Queen is 76, she is very energetic 76 but 76 nonetheless.’
She added: ‘We know the King will be frustrated but he will know he has members of the family who he trusts to the roles if needs be.’
Royal biographer Matthew Dennison told BBC One the immediate future of the monarchy will likely resemble that of the last few months of the late Queen’s reign.
‘The queen maintained all the functions associated with her role as head of state – the prime ministerial encounters, where possible privy council meetings but she didn’t do so many public engagements which are the head of the nation side of being the sovereign,’ he said.
‘What we are going to see is something remarkably similar that the King will continue as head of state but some of the head of the nation duties – he won’t be doing that in the short term.
‘Members of his immediate family who stepped up when the late queen scaled back her public engagements will do the same in this case I think. I suppose the challenge for the royal family is fitting in engagements to what are often very busy diaries that have been planned long in advance.’
Dame Julia Cleverdon said King Charles’s ‘determination’ will ensure his reign continues throughout the cancer treatment.
Charles (pictured with Queen Camilla on Easter Sunday in 2023), 75, will ‘continue to ‘undertake State business and official paperwork as usual’ as well as having weekly audiences with the Prime Minister, a Buckingham Palace statement read
But the monarch (pictured with Queen Camilla in 2023 at the Royal Maundy Service) has apologised after the decision was taken to postpone his forthcoming public duties after his cancer diagnosis
She told Radio 4: ‘I am absolutely sure that this reign will continue and that the determination of the King, who is a very determined man, knows a lot about cancer.
‘I always remember when organising programmes within the last engagement of the day was always the visit to hospitals because he didn’t want any time taken – if he was going to use longer time it would be his time.
‘He will be really really a) knowledgeable b) determined and c) absolutely clear that the show will go on.’
The monarch apologised after the decision was taken to postpone his forthcoming public duties after his cancer diagnosis.
It means the King is unlikely to be at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 11, which is usually attended by senior members of the royal family.
The annual Maundy Thursday Service and Easter engagements, including the Sunday service with other royal relatives, could also be out of the question for the monarch.
The King and Queen were expected to visit Canada in May, and Australia, New Zealand and Samoa for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October.
Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm whether the tours will go ahead, with no date suggested for the King’s return to full public duties.
His cancer diagnosis raises the prospect of the high-profile overseas visits – his first to the countries as King – being postponed.
No forthcoming state visits have officially been confirmed by the Palace.
The palace said the King ‘looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible’, but it is not yet known whether it will affect his attendance at events such as those marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day in June.
It is understood he will continue to receive red boxes and process state documents during treatment and there are no plans to appoint Counsellors of State.
A palace spokesman said: ‘Regrettably, a number of the King’s forthcoming public engagements will have to be rearranged or postponed.
‘His Majesty would like to apologise to all those who may be disappointed or inconvenienced as a consequence.’
It is understood details of the King’s diary are still being worked on and it is not yet known when a full programme of engagements will begin.
The palace said the Queen will continue with a full programme of public duties.
Other working members of the royal family could undertake additional duties on behalf of the King but it is understood planning for future state visits will continue where possible.
The Prince of Wales could take on some of the King’s work as he is expected to return to public duties on Wednesday after the Princess of Wales’ major abdominal surgery last month.
It is also understood that Charles will continue to be available for Privy Council meetings, but details of how they will take place are still being worked through.
Above: Charles was last seen waving to well-wishers as he attended a service with his wife Queen Camilla at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, on Sunday
Buckingham Palace said in a statement tonight: ‘During The King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer’
It is expected that alternative arrangements will be made for his weekly audience with the Prime Minister should doctors advise him to minimise any in-person contact.
The King has already started a schedule of regular treatments and is said to be receiving expert medical care from a specialist team, but has been advised to postpone his public-facing duties. The Palace declined to confirm the type of cancer.
Charles will carry on working behind the scenes on his red boxes – his state business and official papers, and returned from Sandringham to London on Monday to commence treatment as an out-patient.
He remains at home, most likely in Clarence House, his favoured residence in the capital.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: ‘During The King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer.
‘His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties.
‘Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.
‘The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure.
‘He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.
‘His Majesty 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.’
It is understood there are no current plans to appoint Counsellors of State – members of the royal family who step in when a monarch cannot fulfil their duties.
When he was discharged from hospital last Monday, the King appeared steady on his feet as he walked out of the London Clinic in Marylebone with Queen Camilla by his side
The King has rearranged or postponed any forthcoming public engagements, but it is understood to be too early to say when Charles will return to full public duties, although he is said to be looking forward to doing so as soon as possible.
A Palace spokesman added: ‘His Majesty would like to apologise to all those who may be disappointed or inconvenienced as a consequence.’
The Palace has called for the King’s privacy to be respected, especially during his treatment, but said the monarch wanted to make his diagnosis public because of his long-running support for cancer charities.
The spokesman said: ‘No further details are being shared at this stage, except to confirm that His Majesty does not have prostate cancer.’
He added: ‘The King has elected to make his diagnosis public once the schedule of treatment had begun, noting that as Prince of Wales he was patron of a number of cancer-related charities.
‘In this capacity, His Majesty has often spoken publicly in support of cancer patients, their loved ones and the wonderful health professionals who help care for them.’
Charles, 75, was discharged from the London Clinic a week ago after undergoing treatment on an enlarged prostate.
The shock news is the latest health scare to hit the royal family at the start of 2024, coming after the King’s hospital stay, Kate’s major abdominal surgery and Sarah, Duchess of York’s diagnosis of skin cancer.
Buckingham Palace announced on January 16 that the King was to have treatment for an enlarged prostate, but that the condition was benign.
The Palace announced the King’s cancer diagnosis at 6pm on Monday.
Charles, who acceded to the throne just 17 months ago, was last seen on Sunday when he attended church in Sandringham, but looked cheery as he walked along and waved at well-wishers.