King Charles speaks to cancer patients on first public engagement since diagnosis

King Charles told patients that he was well during a visit to a London cancer treatment centre where he also spoke of the “shock” of receiving a cancer diagnosis.

On his first public-facing engagement since his diagnosis, he and the queen met cancer specialists and patients receiving chemotherapy at the University College hospital’s Macmillan Cancer Centre in a visit aimed at highlighting the importance of early diagnosis.

He sympathised with one cancer patient as she received her chemotherapy with many others in a day unit, telling Lesley Woodbridge, 63: “It’s always a bit of a shock isn’t it, when they tell you.” He added: “I’ve got to have my treatment this afternoon as well.”

Asked about his health, the 75-year-old monarch told one patient: “I’m all right, thank you very much, not too bad.” Asha Millen, 60, said that the king had said “I’m well” when she asked him how he was.

He looked to be in good spirits during the visit, where he and Camilla learned about some of the latest treatments and spoke to patients receiving treatment. He said the challenge was to “get enough people early”.

Charles’s treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer, which was announced in February, is continuing. After three months of outpatient treatment, Buckingham Palace said on Friday that doctors were sufficiently encouraged by his positive progress to advise him that he could resume some public-facing duties.

He was said to be keen that his first engagement since doctors allowed a return to public events would raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis. Aides said he also wanted to show it was possible to work with cancer, although he appreciated that everyone has their own journey and it is not for everyone.

The hospital chosen for the visit is not understood to have links to his own treatment, details of which have not been publicly disclosed.

The couple were met by the chair of University College London hospitals (UCLH) NHS foundation trust, Julia Neuberger, and the trust’s chief executive, David Probert.

Before the visit it was announced the king had been named as a new patron of Cancer Research UK. He is also a longstanding patron of Macmillan Cancer Support, whose chief executive, Gemma Peters, was among those to meet the king and queen on Tuesday.

Peters said: “In choosing today’s engagement to highlight cancer innovation, treatment and support, their majesties continue to help raise awareness and encourage the millions of people who are facing cancer to seek the support they need.

“We hear from people every day who are returning to work after cancer treatment – it’s different for everyone and can be a daunting time. Macmillan can help, whether you need practical advice, support or just a listening ear.”

According to Macmillan, there has been a big surge in visits to its website since the king’s cancer diagnosis in February. The charity has also had a 75% increase in volunteer applications to the charity compared with the same period in 2023.