King Charles usually has weekly in-person audiences with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak but following the monarch’s cancer diagnosis, this week’s will not be face-to-face
King Charles will still hold his weekly audience with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today – but it won’t be in person.
Downing Street said that the two men will have their weekly meeting over the phone today instead following the King’s cancer diagnosis. Charles is currently at Sandringham after travelling there from London yesterday after starting his treatment on Monday. Number 10 took the unusual step of confirming details about Rishi Sunak’s audience with the King following an agreement with Buckingham Palace to disclose the information.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We don’t in general and we are not going to get into the habit of commenting on the PM’s conversations with the King. But we have agreed with the Palace in this specific instance to confirm that they will be speaking on the phone later.”
It is the duty of the monarch to hold a weekly audience with the Prime Minister of the day to discuss matters of Government. What is said in the meetings always remains private and no other people are present during it.
Charles has postponed all public-facing duties but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers. The King’s cancer treatment as an outpatient started earlier this week, and he returned, with Queen Camilla, to his Sandringham home in Norfolk on Tuesday after seeing his son Prince Harry, who had flown back to the UK from California.
Asked if Mr Sunak would travel to Sandringham for his discussion with the King, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We don’t in general and we are not going to get into the habit of commenting on the PM’s conversations with the King. But we have agreed with the Palace in this specific instance to confirm that they will be speaking on the phone later.”
Yesterday, Mr Sunak revealed more of Charles’ condition, saying he was thankful the King’s cancer has been “caught early” as he wished him a full recovery. Asked what the diagnosis meant for the day-to-day running of the country, Mr Sunak told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We’ll crack on with everything.”
During the pandemic, the late Queen carried out her audiences with the PM on the phone. Buckingham Palace confirmed the King, who only acceded to the throne 17 months ago, does not have prostate cancer, saying only that it was a “form of cancer”. He was diagnosed after a “separate issue of concern was noted” and investigated while he was being treated for his benign enlarged prostate. Prince William returned to official duties today, beginning with an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The heir to the throne is expected to also be undertaking some duties on his father’s behalf, but Counsellors of State, who are appointed temporarily when a monarch cannot fulfil their duties as head of state, are not expected to be needed.
Meanwhile, the Princess Royal held the fort on the royal engagements front, carrying out an investiture on behalf of the King at Windsor Castle on Tuesday. Charles personally called both Harry and William, as well as his siblings Anne, the Duke of York and the Duke of Edinburgh, to give them the news before it was publicly announced to the nation by the Palace at 6pm on Monday.
The Palace has called for the King’s privacy to be respected, especially during his treatment, but said he wanted to make his diagnosis public because of his long-running support for cancer charities. This is the latest major royal health scare to hit the monarchy at the start of 2024, coming after the King’s hospital stay, Kate’s major surgery, keeping her away from official duties until after Easter, and Sarah, Duchess of York’s skin cancer diagnosis.