The monarchy has been hit by a double health scare with the Princess of Wales in hospital after abdominal surgery and the King facing treatment for an enlarged prostate.
Kate – a future Queen – is expected to remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days and is set to be away from official duties for up to three months to give her time to recover.
The nature of the princess’s condition has not been revealed although Kensington Palace confirmed it was not cancerous.
It is serious enough, however, for the Prince of Wales to be stepping temporarily back from official duties while his wife is in hospital and in the immediate aftermath while she recuperates.
A source said of the Princess: “She’s doing well”.
William was understood to be looking after Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on Wednesday evening.
The royal youngsters were at school all day and are yet to visit their mother in hospital.
The King, who was up in Scotland when he received his diagnosis, is said to have supported William and Kate, with a source adding: “They’re a close family so they’re in close touch”.
Buckingham Palace announced just an hour and a half after Kensington Palace’s shock news that Charles, 75, will be treated in hospital next week.
The Palace said Charles’s condition was benign and he would be having a corrective procedure.
His engagements will be postponed for a short period of recuperation.
Kate, 42, was admitted to The London Clinic on Tuesday for her planned procedure, rather than King Edward VII’s Hospital which is usually the go-to establishment for royal medical matters.
Media have descended on the private hospital in central London with photographers, journalists and broadcasters awaiting news behind barriers on the opposite side of the road.
The princess is not expected to return to public duties until after Easter based on current medical advice, Kensington Palace said.
Heir to the throne William will juggle being at Kate’s side with caring for their children George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and five-year-old Louis, and he has postponed a number of engagements.
Kate is close to her family, and her parents Carole and Michael Middleton and sibling Pippa Matthews and James Middleton are set to rally round and support her recovery at the Waleses’ home, Adelaide Cottage in Windsor.
A spokesperson said: “The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate.
“She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.
A statement from Kensington Palace pic.twitter.com/6h3BCrqj5L
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) January 17, 2024
“Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.
“The Princess of Wales wishes to apologise to all those concerned for the fact that she has to postpone her upcoming engagements.
“She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible.”
There will now be no international travel for the prince and princess in the coming months.
It is understood Charles was 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.
Buckingham Palace Palace said in a statement: “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 on Thursday and Friday, which are being postponed on his doctor’s advice.
The announcement was made on the same day as Kate’s hospital stay because guests, including foreign dignitaries and members of the Cabinet, were due to travel to Scotland and needed to be made aware of the situation.
The 75-year-old monarch acceded to the throne just 16 months ago after spending 70 years as the heir to the throne, and was crowned last May in Westminster Abbey.
The princess marked her birthday just over a week ago, with the monarchy’s official social media accounts sharing a new behind-the-scenes photo of the princess at the King’s coronation, but there was no usual response thanking well-wishers from the Waleses’ account.
Kate usually enjoys good health but was previously admitted to hospital while pregnant after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – severe morning sickness.
Like the rest of the royal family, she has had a busy, turbulent past couple of years, with the Platinum Jubilee and the late Queen’s death in 2022, and the coronation in 2023, as well as adjusting to her new role as the Princess of Wales.
The Waleses also faced the ongoing rift between William and his brother the Duke of Sussex, with Harry making controversial claims about Charles, Camilla, William and Kate in his Netflix documentary and memoir Spare.
William’s former university flatmate has carefully carved out her charity work since marrying the prince in 2011 and becoming an HRH, focusing on mental health and early childhood.
Seen as the monarchy’s safe pair of hands and as having a “keep calm and carry on” approach, Kate has been heralded as channelling the same characteristics of charm, politeness and toughness as the late Queen Mother, who was once described as “a marshmallow made on a welding machine”.
Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who was private secretary to the Cambridges and the Duke of Sussex, and used to work for the Queen Mother, told The Times: “She takes time to talk to people. She is tough.
“She has got that Queen Mother feel in her, so that when things need doing, she is there to do them.”