Buckingham Palace’s announcement on Monday evening UK time that King Charles III had been diagnosed with cancer sent newsrooms scrambling.
The shock diagnosis comes just 17 months after the 75-year-old King took to the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 after a 70-year reign.
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Not surprisingly, the monarch’s illness dominated the headlines of the UK newspapers on Tuesday morning, from tabloids such as The Daily Mail and The Sun to the Financial Times and The Independent, which has traditionally been restrained in its coverage of the royal family.
Buckingham Palace said the cancer was discovered after King Charles underwent surgery on a benign prostate enlargement last month. The type of cancer has not been revealed, but he has stepped back from public engagement as he begins “regular treatments.”
The King has vowed to keep working behind the scenes on state business such as reading government dispatches, which are famously delivered to him in a red leather box, and his weekly meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Daily Mail devoted 11 of its 70 pages to the story, covering every angle from the King’s healthy lifestyle to the implications of the bombshell diagnosis for his relationship with estranged son Prince Harry.
It was revealed on Monday evening that the King had broken the news of his illness personally to Prince Harry by phone, and that the latter was flying back from his home in California to see his father, without his wife Meghan Markle or children.
The Mirror speculated on whether the family drama would see Prince Harry reunite with his family, under the headline, “Is this the moment for Harry’s return to the fold?”
Its report quoted one palace source as saying: “Now more than ever there needs to be a focus on healing. Not just for the King, who will be going through an ordeal that remains uncertain, but also for relationships across the family.”
The Daily Mail speculated on the implications for Prince William and Kate, the Princess of Wales, as King Charles III steps back from public duties. William is due to return to work on Wednesday after a period of leave while Kate recovered from abdominal surgery for an undisclosed condition.
The newspaper highlighted how the couple’s meticulous plans to give their three children a balanced and happy childhood could come under pressure as William steps up royal duties, even if there is no question right now that he is about to take up the throne.
The article also questioned how William would deal with Harry’s return.
Their relationship has been at rock bottom following Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey and allegations by Harry in his autobiography Spare that William “lunged” at him in an argument over the Oprah interview.
“While Charles has been torn by the conflict between his sons and has longed for a rapprochement, William is convinced that trust, the basis of any relationship, has been utterly destroyed,” wrote the paper.
The type of cancer has not been revealed, but UK newspapers suggested that the King’s healthy lifestyle and love of outdoor pursuits such as hiking and camping put him in a good position to battle the illness.
The Times wrote on its front page that the support of the British people would also play its part in helping the King on the road to recovery.
“Knowing that he has the sympathy and support of his people, the King will be helped to keep his spirts, and those of the Queen, and the rest of his family, high at a time of physical and psychological challenge,” it said.
Messages of support also flooded in from around the world with both President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump among those expressing concern and well wishes.
“I’m concerned about him … just heard his diagnosis. But I’ll be talking to him God willing,” Biden told reporters in Las Vegas on Monday.
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