Royals don’t tend to visit each other in hospital, so there can be no stronger signal of Charles and Kate’s bond than his trip to her bedside before his prostate operation. The family are more united than ever, says REBECCA ENGLISH

It is, of course, fortuitous they are undergoing medical treatment at the same London hospital.

But do not underestimate the significance of King Charles’ decision to spend a few moments earlier today at his adored daughter-in-law’s bedside.

Along with his wife, Queen Camilla (her presence there another historic break with royal tradition), His Majesty made a beeline for Catherine’s room at the private London Clinic in Marylebone, where she had spent a tenth night following what has only been described as ‘planned abdominal surgery’.

Put simply, royals don’t tend to visit each other in hospital, or at least only very rarely.

Although they live very public lives, monarchy can actually be quite a lonely path to walk at times.

King Charles arrives at the London Clinic in Marylebone this morning for treatment 

Kate attends the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last November

Kate attends the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last November

Senior family members do not, generally, like to draw attention to themselves or their loved ones.

And they are also acutely aware that the extra security and media attention that inevitably accompanies them is the last thing a busy hospital – or other patients – need.

However, as we are fast coming to learn, Charles, 75, is not afraid to do things differently.

He has come to adore Kate, with whom he has bonded not just over mutual loves, such as music and art, but also over his grandchildren.

The King thinks she is doing a ‘wonderful’ job bringing up George, Charlotte and Louis, and is appreciative of the very stable little family unit she and William have created.

And he relishes the time he gets to spend with them at Windsor now that he is spending more time at the Castle, where they live just a few minutes drive away.

Surely there can be no stronger signal of their bond than the princess being so happy to see her father-in-law following what is clearly serious and debilitating surgery?

It should also be noted that Queen Camilla’s presence at the hospital today by her husband’s side is equally remarkable.

While the late Queen Elizabeth II occasionally visited her husband, Prince Philip, in hospital during some of his lengthier (and more serious) convalesces, Camilla insisted on accompanying her husband as he was admitted, too.

It is understood that she plans to spend several hours at his bedside and may even stay until doctors have confirmed that his surgery to treat an enlarged prostate has been successful.

Friends tell me that she wouldn’t have had it any other way. ‘They are a genuinely devoted and very sweet couple,’ said one.

Indeed, Annabel Elliot, Camilla’s sister recently described her as being the King’s ‘rock’.

‘They’re the yin and yang. They really are polar oppositions but I think it works brilliantly,’ she said.

Another friend adds: ‘It sounds a bit cheesy, I know, but they really are team. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that she would be there.’

It’s why I know reports earlier this week that the Queen had been urging her husband to slow down were somewhat wide of the mark.

Granted, it is a phrase she often employs: she once jokingly told me, eyes rolling, that she might need to jump up and down holding a placard reminding him it was his birthday if she were to have any chance of getting him to look up from his desk.

Charles is a workaholic, who famously packs in ten to 12 engagements and meetings a day and spends many a night alone in his study, furiously writing letters and keeping up with his paperwork, well into the early hours.

Despite being told by his doctors to cancel his public engagements ahead of his surgery, the King has insisted on not only keeping up with his paperwork but even holding meetings behind the scenes.

Only yesterday, at Sandringham, hours before he flew back down to Buckingham Palace ahead of being admitted to hospital today, he had an audience with Dame Polly Courtice of Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Professor Robert Miller, director of the Whittle Laboratory.

I can also reveal that staff are even expecting to take paperwork into the hospital for him to deal with later this afternoon, depending on how he recovers from the anaesthetic.

‘I really wouldn’t be surprised if he is back working later,’ said a source.

It is for this reason that despite his absence from public duties, The King – who is expected to remain in hospital for two days – has made clear he will not be needing counsellors of state to stand in for him.

Historically the spouse of the sovereign and the next four people in the line of succession, counsellors of state are authorised to carry out the monarch’s official duties should they be incapacitated.

With Prince William clearing his diary to be by his wife’s side, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry could, theoretically, have been called on.

Thankfully, many might think, this now won’t be the case.

Of course, it is far from ideal that the King has been hospitalised – albeit briefly and for fairly routine surgery for a man of his age – so early into his reign.

There will be those that remember the frequent scares over his late mother’s health towards the end of her life with gritted teeth.

But the fact that Buckingham Palace is keen to emphasise, when it comes to affairs of state, it is business as usual should calm any cause for alarm.

For King Charles, having his nearest and dearest around him today will no doubt be of huge comfort, too.

The Royal Family have suffered more than their fair share of brickbats over recent years, with Harry and Meghan, in particular, doing their level best to draw attention to what they believe divides the family.

And yet today – in perhaps the rather unexpected surroundings of a London hospital – we have seen them more united than ever.

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