King Charles will miss Commonwealth Day service

March 6, 2024 - 5:41 PM
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Britain's King Charles
Britain's King Charles leaves the London Clinic in London, Britain January 29, 2024. (Reuters/Hannah McKay/File Photo)

 Britain’s King Charles will miss next week’s engagements to mark Commonwealth Day, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday, with his wife Queen Camilla stepping in for the monarch as he continues to undergo treatment for cancer.

Charles, 75, has been forced to step away from public duties after it was announced last month he had been diagnosed with a unspecified form of cancer, less than 18 months into his reign.

ALSO READ: King Charles diagnosed with cancer, will postpone duties and undergo treatment

As a result, the king, who is head of the Commonwealth of 56 countries that evolved from the British Empire, will be unable to attend the annual service of celebration at Westminster Abbey on Monday and a reception afterwards.

Camilla will head the group of senior royals in attendance, which will include heir-to-the throne Prince William but not his wife Kate, who has also been absent from public life this year after having abdominal surgery for a non-cancer related ailment.

While Charles is keeping up with his official state duties and was pictured on Tuesday meeting finance minister Jeremy Hunt a day before he gives his budget statement to parliament, it is not clear when he will return to his usual public role.

RELATED: What happens if King Charles can no longer perform his duties?

The absence of both the king and Kate, while William missed an engagement last week because of an unspecified “personal matter”, has led to a surge of speculation and conspiracy theories on social media.

The British royals rarely release details of any medical conditions, regarding them as purely private matters, but the policy of maintaining a dignified silence on rumors is coming under pressure.

“The most cursory of glances at the rampant speculation on social media ought to ­persuade even the most unyielding of royal aides that wherever there is a vacuum ­surrounding a public figure, it will be filled,” royal expert Richard Kay wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.

Kate’s office has said it would only provide “significant” updates on her condition, and that she was not expected to be back performing public duties until after Easter.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday she would be attending an annual military parade in June. However Kensington Palace is responsible for confirming her attendance at future events and has not yet done so.

It comes the day after U.S. celebrity news site TMZ published what it said was the first picture of the Princess of Wales since her operation in January, sitting in the passenger seat of a car driven by her mother near Windsor Castle.

— Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Nick Macfie