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What we know about King Charles's health treatment

The reigning monarch has left hospital for treatment on an enlarged prostate

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla leave The London Clinic in central London, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. King Charles III was in hospital to receive treatment for an enlarged prostate. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
King Charles and Queen Camilla leaving the London Clinic on Monday. (AP)

King Charles has left hospital after spending three nights receiving medical care following treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Charles, 75, smiled and waved to a few onlookers as he left the private London Clinic on Monday afternoon with the Queen by his side. Camilla had visited her husband every day since he was admitted on Friday.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said the King had has "rescheduled forthcoming public engagements to allow for a period of private recuperation", adding: “His Majesty would like to thank the medical team and all those involved in supporting his hospital visit, and is grateful for all the kind messages he has received in recent days.”

The King previously said he was “delighted" to learn that his diagnosis is having a positive impact on public health awareness after it emerged the announcement of his health condition last week sparked a rise in queries to the NHS about the condition.

What we know

On 17 January, just an hour and a half after it was announced the Princess of Wales had had her surgery, Buckingham Palace announced the King would be having treatment for an enlarged prostate.

The Palace said Charles’s condition was benign and he would be having a corrective procedure. They said his engagements would be postponed for a short period of recuperation.

The Princess of Wales has undergone abdominal surgery. (PA)
The Princess of Wales has undergone abdominal surgery. (PA)

Buckingham Palace Palace said in a statement at the time: "In common with thousands of men each year, the King has sought treatment for an enlarged prostate. His Majesty’s condition is benign and he will attend hospital next week for a corrective procedure. The King’s public engagements will be postponed for a short period of recuperation."

The King had a series of meetings and events planned at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire last week, which were postponed on his doctor’s advice.

Last week, the Queen when asked about the King replied: "He’s fine, thank you very much. Looking forward to getting back to work."

What we don't know

Beyond the statements put out by Buckingham Palace, not a lot is known about how serious the condition is or how much it is impacting him.

We do know that an enlarged prostate is common in men over 50, and as the Palace has confirmed it is not cancer it usually does not pose a serious threat to health. The openness of the statement, including the acknowledgement of how widespread the condition is, could point to a change in tact by the Royal Family who have usually remained quiet about their health.

Charles is said to have been keen to share the details of his diagnosis to encourage other men who may be experiencing symptoms to get checked in line with public health advice. The day after the announcement, the NHS said there had been a large jump in people visiting its website to learn about enlarged prostates, with more than 11 times the usual visitors.

The Prince of Wales was pictured visiting his wife on Thursday. (PA)
The Prince of Wales was pictured visiting his wife on Thursday. (PA)

The timing of the initial statement also raised some eyebrows, coming just 90 minutes after the announcement about the Princess of Wales. While not confirmed, it has been reported the King made the announcement on last Wednesday to give guests, who were due to travel to Scotland for events at Dumfries House at the end of the week, advance notice.

With the King now taking a period to rest and recover from his condition and treatment the Queen could be put under even more pressure to maintain the very top of the monarchy.

According to unconfirmed reports in the Telegraph, an insider suggested 76-year-old Camilla has struggled with the new pace of being a monarch, while the King has also reportedly become anxious with the weight of his new responsibilities. Earlier this week, the Sun reported that the Queen told Charles he needs to "slow down a bit". Publically, Camilla has been more buoyant, telling 86-year-old well-wisher Jessie Jackson on Monday that the King was “fine” during an engagement in Swindon.

Charles’s recent health history

At 75 the King has had his fair share of minor injuries, especially from the 40 years he played polo, and a handful of more serious health scares.

In 2008 Charles had a non-cancerous growth removed from the bridge of his nose in a minor procedure.

Concern has been expressed over the years at his "sausage fingers" amid fears they might be due to fluid build-up or other conditions. During one of the rehearsals for the King's coronation, the BBC reported that Prince William struggled to fasten one of his father's robes, to which Charles responded not worry as he does not have his "sausage fingers."

Queen Camilla said her husband was feeling fine on Thursday. (PA)
Queen Camilla said her husband was feeling fine on Thursday. (PA)

But Charles had been aware of his puffy digits for decades. “He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine,” he wrote to a friend after the birth of his first-born William in 1982.

The cause of his puffy fingers has never been publicly identified but it has been speculated to be caused by Oedema, Dactylitis or fluid retention. It could also be a sign of a more serious condition but the Palace has never commented on it.

In March 2020, Charles, then 71, caught COVID-19 before vaccinations were available but only suffered mild symptoms. He lost his sense of taste and smell for a time and later spoke of the “strange, frustrating and often distressing” experience of being without friends and relatives during lockdown. He caught COVID for a second time in February 2022 but was triple-vaccinated.