King meets cancer patients as he returns to official duties

In a deeply personal engagement the King spoke of his "shock" on receiving a cancer diagnosis, as he mingled with fellow patients at a cancer treatment centre during his first public outing since beginning his treatment.

Charles looked relaxed and in good spirits during a visit to University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre where he learnt about some of the latest treatments and sat down to chat to patients receiving chemotherapy.

The head of state was joined by Queen Camilla during the trip to the London-based medical institution and they went on a number of impromptu walkabouts, meeting staff who stopped to catch a glimpse of the couple.

The King sympathised with one cancer patient as she received her chemotherapy with many others in a day unit, telling Lesley Woodbridge, 63: “I’ve got to have my treatment this afternoon as well.”

The King speaks with children outside (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
The King speaks with children outside (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

"Not too bad. It's always a bit of a shock, isn't it, when they tell you?" he confessed to a patient also undergoing chemotherapy who inquired about his well-being.

Despite the weight of his own health battles, King Charles maintained a cheerful demeanour throughout the visit, reassuring those he spoke with: "I'm alright thank you very much, not too bad."

The King was notably proactive during his visit, emphasising the importance of early testing multiple times to the patients and staff.

Breaking protocol, the royal couple dived into an impromptu walkabout right through the foyer, greeted by many patients cordoned off by ropes for the occasion.

The King actively engaged with several attendees, assuring them of his fine condition and expressing his gratitude to the dedicated hospital staff.

Asha Millen, 60, who is receiving chemotherapy for bone marrow cancer chatted to the King as he met patients in the chemotherapy day unit.


The visit also included a detailed tour of the hospital’s lower levels where the King and Queen were introduced to cutting-edge research on a new melanoma vaccine and a lung cancer study, highlighting the lifesaving potential of early detection via technologies like CT scanners.

In a particularly touching moment upstairs, amidst patients receiving chemotherapy in a room decked out with pink cushioned armchairs, the King and Queen stopped at the nurses' station to delve into the specifics of the treatments being administered.

Here, Lesley Woodbridge, a 63-year-old patient in her second round of chemotherapy for sarcoma, had a heartfelt conversation with the King about the shock of diagnosis and the impact of treatment on her life.

The King chats with Lesley Woodbridge (Getty Images)
The King chats with Lesley Woodbridge (Getty Images)

Throughout their visit, both the King and Queen took the time to ask every patient about their treatment and side effects, showing a genuine interest in how treatments were tailored to individual needs.

The Queen, taking moments for private conversations in side cubicles, remarked on the serene atmosphere, “There's a real feeling of calm here. Everybody in the same boat, everyone can identify.”

Before departing, they performed a second walkabout, connecting with the crowd and sharing moments of empathy and understanding, underscored by the gift exchange with two young patients which included a stuffed toy Jack Russell and a selection of books.

Reflecting on the visit, hospital staff praised the royal couple's genuine engagement and concern, noting the visit not only lifted spirits but also promised to boost awareness and investment in cancer care.