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Charles' cancer was 'caught early,' PM says, as Harry arrives in U.K. to see him

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Tuesday that, like the rest of the nation, he was “shocked and sad” about the news and remained in "regular contact" with the 75-year-old monarch.
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LONDON — King Charles III’s cancer was “caught early,” Britain's prime minister said Tuesday, a day after the revelation of the 75-year-old monarch’s diagnosis

Rishi Sunak’s comments offered the British public new details about the condition, as Prince Harry arrived home to see his father and Prince William, the heir to the throne, prepared to step up and take on some of the king's public duties.

Charles spent the night at home after beginning his treatment, which left the royal family facing a new health crisis just 18 months after he assumed the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Buckingham Palace announced in a statement Monday that a “form of cancer” was detected while the king was having a hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement.

The palace did not specify what type of cancer Charles was diagnosed with or what stage it was at. It said Charles did not have prostate cancer.

The palace said he remains “wholly positive,” but will have to postpone public-facing duties and public engagements. The king will still carry out state business and official paperwork as usual, the palace said.

Speaking to BBC radio, Sunak said that like the rest of the nation, he was “shocked and sad” about the news, and remains in “regular contact” with the king.

“Thankfully this has been caught early, and now everyone will be wishing him that he gets the treatment that he needs and makes a full recovery,” he told the public broadcaster.

King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace said on February 5, sparking a flood of support from around the world.
News of the king's diagnosis dominated British media coverage.Henry Nicholls / AFP via Getty Images

Although sparse on details, the revelation of the king’s cancer diagnosis by Buckingham Palace marks a departure from the past when the monarch’s ailments were often kept hidden from the public. The palace said the king wanted to share his diagnosis “to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”

Within hours of the news breaking Monday, well-wishes started pouring in from across the United Kingdom and beyond.

President Joe Biden wished the king a “swift and full recovery” in a post on X on Monday night. “Navigating a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship takes hope and absolute courage,” Biden said.

The archbishop of Canterbury, who presided over Charles’ coronation just nine months ago, also wished the monarch “God’s comfort and strength in the weeks and months to come” in a message on X on Tuesday morning.

On the streets of London, residents said they were shocked by the news.

“Genuinely heartfelt thoughts to him; that sounds pretty scary,” said Andy Bloomer, a hotel manager.

Charles is “someone who a lot of people take great comfort in, and I do, too. I am sure he will fight like anyone else would. It’s a horrible shock," Bloomer, 38, added.

The news comes just over a week after both the king and his elder daughter-in-law, Kate, the Princess of Wales, were discharged from a private London clinic after medical procedures. While Charles underwent a “corrective procedure” for an enlarged prostate, Kate, 42, had planned abdominal surgery for a noncancerous condition.

Charles' eldest son, William, is now expected to step up to carry out some duties on behalf of his father while he undergoes treatment for cancer. The Prince of Wales is resuming his royal duties this week, his office said, after having had to postpone them while his wife was undergoing treatment. 

Meanwhile, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has flown back from his home in California to the U.K. to visit his father. He was photographed being driven into Clarence House, his father's London residence near Buckingham Palace.

A spokesperson for the prince and his wife, Meghan, told NBC News on Monday that Harry spoke to Charles about the diagnosis.

It comes at a time when Harry’s relationship with his father and brother is reported to be strained after he and Meghan stepped back from their roles as senior members of the royal family in 2020, and Harry's deeply personal disclosures released in his memoir last year.