King Charles opens up on 'shock' and 'difficulty' of his cancer diagnosis as he holds hands with cancer patients

King Charles marked his return to public-facing duties with a significant royal visit and shared his feelings about his cancer diagnosis

King Charles III during a visit to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre on April 30, 2024
(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

King Charles has opened up about the "shock" and "difficulty" of his cancer diagnosis as he returned to public duties.

Two months after King Charles’s cancer diagnosis was shared, it was confirmed that the monarch would be resuming his public-facing duties after "a period of treatment and recuperation" and would start by making a special engagement. On 30th April, his first day as the new Patron of Cancer Research UK, he visited the Macmillan Cancer Centre at University College Hospital with Queen Camilla. The royal couple spent time with patients and their families and heard about their ongoing treatment and the vital support they have received at this challenging time.

In turn, King Charles also candidly spoke about how he’d felt after learning of his own diagnosis and the impact this had had upon him. According to the BBC he said to one of the centre’s patients that it’s "always a bit of a shock isn't it, when they tell you," before sharing that he had his "treatment this afternoon as well". 

King Charles holds the hand of patient Asha Millan, during a visit to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre

(Image credit: Photo by SUZANNE PLUNKETT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Meanwhile, Queen Camilla was reportedly asked by the patient Lesley Woodbridge’s husband Roger about how she had been finding things since King Charles’s diagnosis.

"I said to her 'How do you feel?’ he explained. "She just said 'It's just so difficult' and we both agreed." 

King Charles was pictured holding the hands of several cancer patients during this visit and it seems that he was incredibly candid about discussing his own personal experience with them. He and Queen Camilla also met clinicians and staff members at the hospital and learnt more about their use of CT scanners and other innovative technologies that are used to help detect cancer at an early stage.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla meet with patient Jo Irons during a visit to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre

(Image credit: Photo by Suzanne Plunkett - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The visit to the Macmillan Cancer Centre was to help raise awareness of the importance of early cancer diagnosis and he reportedly expressed his belief that the challenge is "to get enough people early". With this appearance, King Charles has demonstrated not only his ongoing commitment to raising awareness, but also to remaining remarkably open about his health. 

Alongside a new picture of him and Queen Camilla taken by photographer Millie Pilkington, a message was released on 26th April that revealed that in June Their Majesties will be hosting the Emperor and Empress of Japan for a State Visit. This was accompanied by the Palace’s declaration that doctors were "very encouraged" by the "progress made so far and remain positive about the King’s continued recovery".

It’s not clear how many of the royals’ traditional summer events like Trooping the Colour and Royal Ascot will be attended by King Charles, though in recent months his family have been stepping up more than ever to support the monarchy. This includes Queen Camilla, who has continued undertaking a busy schedule of engagements. 

Speaking previously to OK!, the BBC’s former royal correspondent Jennie Bond reflected upon the recent photo of the royal couple and how it speaks volumes about their relationship at this difficult time.

"She looks so supportive - even protective - and her love for him shines through," she declared. "I think she has been a strong partner in this crisis, fronting so many events, keeping the royal roadshow rolling so publicly. And that has undoubtedly further deepened their love – and Charles’ admiration and love for his lady wife."

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!