King Charles to ease back into public role, three months after cancer diagnosis

LONDON — Three months after his cancer diagnosis, Britain’s King Charles III will ease back into public engagements starting with a visit to a cancer-treatment center in London on Tuesday.

“His Majesty’s treatment programme will continue, but doctors are sufficiently pleased with the progress made so far that The King is now able to resume a number of public-facing duties,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Friday evening. “Forthcoming engagements will be adapted where necessary to minimise any risks to His Majesty’s continued recovery.”

The king has not disclosed what sort of cancer he has or what treatment he has received, other than that it has been on an outpatient basis. He never confirmed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s suggestion that the cancer was “caught early.” The palace said Friday that “it is too early to say” how long his treatment would continue.

At least one slightly more distant event has been added to his schedule: At the British government’s request, he and Queen Camilla will host the emperor and empress of Japan in June.

But there was no word on other events that would normally have been baked into his June diary: the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, the monarch’s annual birthday parade and the Royal Ascot horse race. The king and queen were also widely expected to tour Australia and New Zealand in October as part of a trip coinciding with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa.

The palace said Charles was not expected to carry out a “full summer program of events” and that his attendance would be announced nearer the time and “subject to doctors’ advice.”

“The king is easing back into duty. They don’t want to announce too much in advance in case there’s a problem with his cancer,” said Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary of Queen Elizabeth II. Arbiter noted that for much of Elizabeth’s reign, her attendance at events was announced “well in advance,” but that changed in her latter years.

Charles’s attendance at even a smattering of public events will still mark a significant change from recent months.

Since his diagnosis, the public has caught glimpses of the king here and there. He attended Easter services in Windsor in March and this month was photographed inspecting soon-to-be-released bank notes with his image on them. But he has largely been out of the public eye, conducting his constitutional duties behind the scenes.

“His Majesty is greatly encouraged to be resuming some public-facing duties and very grateful to his medical team for their continued care and expertise,” the palace said Friday.

The choice of a cancer-treatment center, where he will meet staff and patients, is clearly symbolic. It is also the kind of bread-and-butter work that the royals typically do.

State visits are more of an undertaking. The monarch normally meets the visiting guests at Horse Guards Parade before traveling back to Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession escorted by mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry. That’s followed by lunch, an exchange of gifts and, in the evening, a state banquet with speeches from both heads of state.

Charles’s return will be a boost for the British royal family. Catherine, Princess of Wales, has also taken time away from public duties while receiving “preventive chemotherapy” for cancer. And Prince William only recently returned to his public duties after taking a few weeks off to spend time with her and their family.

The palace has not given any updates on Catherine’s health since she disclosed her diagnosis in a video in March, saying “I am well and getting stronger every day.”

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