Advertisement

Prince William ‘Still Digesting Shock’ of King Charles’ Cancer Diagnosis

Daniel Leal/Pool via Reuters
Daniel Leal/Pool via Reuters

What next for William?

There are a world of royal possibilities and quandaries facing Prince William—all raised by King Charles’ cancer diagnosis, treatment, and how recent events have served to highlight his own royal destiny, The Sunday Times reports.

Earlier this week, the Mail reported that Charles “100%” backed William’s decision to prioritize Kate Middleton and their kids as she recovers from abdominal surgery. His day of duties Wednesday—a royal investiture, a speech at a charity gala—was going to be a one-off affair of public visibility before he returned to taking care of Kate and their children.

Palace sources underscore to the Times there is “no sense he (William) is being pressurized” to increase his workload. “In some royal circles, however, there is a slight sense of bewilderment at William’s determination to so fiercely protect his boundaries when it comes to his diary.”

Those close to William tell the Times “he is still digesting the shock of his father’s diagnosis” so soon after Kate’s abdominal surgery.

Prince William: Public Support for Charles and Kate ‘Means a Great Deal to Us All’

It has also served to remind him of the magnitude and inevitability of being king. A royal source tells the Times: “At times like this, it is a reminder that as well as being the future head of state, he is also a human being. He is processing the news of his father having cancer as a human being. Given the seriousness with which he takes his role, of course it is something he will be thinking about.”

The absence of Queen Elizabeth at state opening of parliament in May 2022, and at the Platinum Jubilee service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s the following month, had “focused” William’s mind an aide said. “There is a sense of the future accelerating towards him … and the added pressures on his family being under even more scrutiny.” A friend of William’s has previously said: “He knows the future [of the monarchy] rests on his, Catherine’s and his kids’ shoulders, and that’s a lot of pressure.”

\Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at the world premiere of the new James Bond film "No Time To Die" at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, September 28, 2021.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at the world premiere of the new James Bond film "No Time To Die" at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, September 28, 2021.

Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The Times says there a few intriguing events to watch out for in terms of royal choreography. Will William show up for the BAFTA film awards on Feb. 18 (William is president of BAFTA)? At the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 11, will Charles remotely record a message or William read one out from him?

“After spending half-term with the children, you can expect to see the Prince of Wales return to work in a more normal way, in the knowledge that he will still be supporting his wife and still be doing the school run and pick-ups,” a royal source told the paper.

Charles’ thank you and visit to the church

After King Charles’ thank you message addressed to those who had sent messages of support over his cancer diagnosis was released Saturday, the king walked to Sunday morning’s service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate. Alongside Queen Camilla, he smiled and waved to well-wishers, and was greeted by Reverend Canon Paul Williams. It was his first public outing since announcing his cancer diagnosis last Monday.

Britain's King Charles waves as he arrives for a church service at St. Mary Magdalene's church on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, February 11, 2024.

Britain's King Charles waves as he arrives for a church service at St. Mary Magdalene's church on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, February 11, 2024.

Chris Radburn/Reuters

“I would like to express my most heartfelt thanks for the many messages of support and good wishes I have received in recent days,” the statement released Saturday read. “As all those who have been affected by cancer will know, such kind thoughts are the greatest comfort and encouragement. It is equally heartening to hear how sharing my own diagnosis has helped promote public understanding and shine a light on the work of all those organizations which support cancer patients and their families across the UK and wider world. My lifelong admiration for their tireless care and dedication is all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.”

As to what is next for Charles, friends told the Mail on Sunday that he will be carrying out his favorite hobbies—walking, water painting, and listening to Leonard Cohen, specifically the poetic song “Take This Waltz”—and trying to dial down the amount of work he does. A friend told the paper: “Boredom will be one of the hardest things for him.”

Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla sign the visitors' book during a visit to Brecon Cathedral, Brecon, Wales, Britain, July 20, 2023.

Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla sign the visitors' book during a visit to Brecon Cathedral, Brecon, Wales, Britain, July 20, 2023.

Andrew Matthews/Pool via Reuters

The king’s cancer treatments will be weekly and are described by sources as “highly specialized” with “limited side-effects,” the Mirror reported.

This week Charles will reportedly attend a medical appointment in London, and have face-to-face meetings. Those close to Charles say “he is keen to be seen,” and tell the Sunday Times and intends to be driven in the state Bentley with its large windows wherever possible when he is in London. There may also be video clips of his weekly audience with British PM Rishi Sunak, the paper says. He will divide his time between Sandringham and his Highgrove home, and travel to London every week for his cancer treatment. The paper points out that while Charles may be “wholly positive about his treatment” and “a return to full public duty as soon as possible,” nobody, including him, knows how his treatments will affect him.

Further into the future, The Sun on Sunday reports that Charles and Camilla’s planned royal tour of Canada this spring will be rescheduled. There are “fresh doubts” over visits to Australia and Samoa planned for the autumn, “with insiders saying the long trip is ‘highly unlikely’ to go ahead as planned.” Palace sources say it is “too early” to rule the tour out.

Who will be doing all the duties?

Less than a year after Charles’ coronation promised a new era of royal magnificence, the Windsors have instead found themselves plunged into a not unforeseeable existential crisis, due to illness thinning the ranks of an already drastically “slimmed down” royal family.

Of course, the reduction in royal numbers—a pet project of Charles since the diamond jubilee in 2012 when he masterminded a balcony appearance of just himself and his children and their children, squeezing out Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and their offspring—had led many commentators to express worries that the monarchy was being hollowed out to precarious levels.

Anne herself told CBC News last May: “Well, I think the ‘slimmed down’ was said in a day when there were a few more people around. It doesn't sound like a good idea from where I'm standing, I would say. I'm not quite sure what else we can do.”

Britain's Anne, Princess Royal, Vice Patron of the British Horse Society, visits Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre to mark its 35th anniversary, in London, Britain, February 8, 2024.

Britain's Anne, Princess Royal, Vice Patron of the British Horse Society, visits Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre to mark its 35th anniversary, in London, Britain, February 8, 2024.

James Manning/Pool via Reuters

Now, with serious illness affecting two of its principals—Charles (cancer) and Kate (recovering from abdominal surgery) with inevitable knock-on effects on their respective spouses, Camilla and William—that precariousness is evident for all to see.

Indeed, the manner of William’s return to public-facing service seems rather odd. Last week, sources were confidently telling The Daily Beast and other media William would be off work for a good while longer; Monday morning and—ta-da—he was back for his Wednesday double-billing. Then sources close to him let it be known his focus was on his family, and not to expect to see him that much after these two events (on the same day, ironically, that Prince Harry flew back to America). But now, as the Times reports above, maybe we will be seeing him a bit more—even if Kate will not be back at work until at least after easter.

Until then, expect to see a lot of Princess Anne, as Camilla and William figure out how out and about they want—and are able—to be.

This week in royal history

Lady Jane Grey was executed on Feb. 12, 1554, at the Tower of London. Known as the “Nine Days’ Queen,” she claimed the throne between July 10 and July 19, 1553.

Unanswered questions

Will police pursue a fresh investigation into Piers Morgan’s activities when he was editor of the Daily Mirror, as Prince Harry would like them to do? Will Harry return for a second visit to the U.K. to see his dad, and if so when, and where he will stay? How will Charles respond to treatment? Will Charles and Kate reveal more specific detail about their maladies and treatments? Which royals can we expect to see doing engagements?

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.