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Prince William Will 'Step Up' amid King Charles' Cancer News Despite Kate Middleton's Recovery (Exclusive)

The Prince of Wales will support his father amid news of the King's cancer diagnosis while continuing to focus on his family as Princess Kate recuperates from surgery

<p>Getty (2)</p> Prince William and Kate Middleton; King Charles

Getty (2)

Prince William and Kate Middleton; King Charles

Prince William will be there for the crown amid his father King Charles' cancer treatment, even as he balances responsibilities at home during his wife Kate Middleton’s continued recovery from abdominal surgery.

A royal source tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week's issue that the Prince of Wales, 41, is in regular contact with his father amid the news of the King's cancer diagnosis. As King Charles, 75, steps back from public engagements and Princess Kate continues her months-long recuperation, it’s up to Prince William (along with Queen Camilla) to be the face of the monarchy.

“It is hard with Kate being ill as well, but he will step up,” says a source close to the royal household.

Although Prince William may undertake some duties on behalf of his father, there are currently no plans to appoint Counsellors of State to act on King Charles’ behalf. In times of need, the British sovereign can call on these members of the royal family to help manage the monarchy by acting on their behalf through the Letters Patent in the event of temporary incapacity or absence from the U.K.

“He wouldn’t want to put that pressure on William,” says the source. “He has always wanted to save his children from having that pressure too early and that will remain. Particularly as William has other priorities [with Kate].”

<p>ADRIAN DENNIS/getty</p> Prince William travels back to Buckingham Palace following the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023.

ADRIAN DENNIS/getty

Prince William travels back to Buckingham Palace following the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023.

Related: King Charles' Cancer Diagnosis Caught Even Palace Insiders Off Guard: 'Shocked' (Exclusive)

It has been a particularly difficult start to the new year for the royal family. On Jan. 16, the Princess of Wales, 42, underwent a 13-day hospitalization for abdominal surgery — prompting Prince William’s temporary withdrawal from public duty to care for Kate and the couple’s three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5. Kensington Palace said on Jan. 17 that Princess Kate is "unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter" based on the current medical advice, and a close family friend said that Prince William is "really hands-on" at home.

The potential for increased responsibilities for Prince William as King Charles’ heir highlighted the royal family’s thinned ranks since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from their working royal roles in 2020 and Prince Andrew was forced to stop public duties due to his controversial ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

“William will do his best, but the King will want to carry on with his duties as best he can,” says the source close to the royal household.

King Charles will continue to receive his “red boxes,” the monarch’s daily delivery of official files, and process state documents during his treatment. It is also expected that the King will keep his weekly audience with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with appropriate adjustments made if his doctors advise minimizing in-person contact.

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Prince William and King Charles during the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 12, 2023 in London.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince William and King Charles during the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 12, 2023 in London.

Related: Will Prince William Step In for King Charles Following Monarch's Cancer Diagnosis?

“Yes, he’s going to step back from public duties for a considerable time, but there will be plenty of work for him — it just won’t necessarily be in a room with hundreds of people,” says royal biographer Robert Hardman, author of The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy.

Adds the palace insider: “He will want to get on with the job. But that will depend on what treatment he is having. It may be utterly draining on him. He will need a lot of support.”

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PEOPLE magazine, Feb. 19.
PEOPLE magazine, Feb. 19.

The Prince of Wales returned to public work on Wednesday after spending several weeks out of the public eye following his wife's surgery.

Prince William conducted an investiture ceremony on the King’s behalf at Windsor Castle, and he is expected and attend the annual fundraising gala for London's Air Ambulance Charity in the evening.

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