King Charles III’s shocking cancer diagnosis was “caught early,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Tuesday.
“Thankfully, this has been caught early and now everyone will be wishing him that he gets the treatment that that he needs and makes a full recovery,” Sunak said in what appeared to be off-the-cuff remarks during a radio interview with the BBC.
Sunak said he was “like everyone else … shocked and sad” at the news.
When asked for clarification following the interview, Sunak’s spokesman told reporters that the prime minister appeared to have based his remarks on a Buckingham Palace statement that noted “the swift intervention” of the King’s medical team.
The palace did not said how early Charles’ cancer was detected.
Charles will step back from public-facing duties while he undergoes treatment, the palace said. He will continue to carry out state business and official paperwork. On Tuesday afternoon the King was seen leaving the capital by helicopter from Buckingham Palace. A short time before, Prince Harry was seen arriving at Charles’ London home.
It is also understood that he will continue to be available for state duties like Privy Council meetings. However, details of how that will occur are still being worked out.
Sunak said he is still in regular contact with the King and will continue to communicate with him as normal. Sunak declined to say whether their face-to-face meetings would continue but hinted that the diagnosis would not affect how the country is run.
“We’ll crack on with everything, but he’ll be in our thoughts and our prayers,” Sunak said.
Though all the signals coming from the palace have been positive so far, the news is disconcerting. It has been only about 17 months since Charles acceded to the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II. She reigned for more than 70 years, longer than any British monarch in history.
Prince William, Charles’ son and the heir to the throne, and Queen Camilla are expected to take on more public engagement to account for Charles’ absence.
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William is in regular contact with his father, according to a source close to the Prince of Wales.
That group consists of 11 members, more than half of whom are over the age of 70. It includes King Charles, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Waleses, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex would normally be considered working royals, but they chose to step back from royal duties in 2020 and move to California. Prince Andrew was forced out in the light of his relationship with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.