Kate’s cancer diagnosis underlines difficult year for royal family

The Princess of Wales’s cancer announcement marks the latest blow to the royal family over the past year, including the King also being diagnosed with the disease.

After weeks of speculation, Kensington Palace has announced that Kate is in the early stages of treatment.

Kate was initially admitted to hospital for abdominal surgery on January 16 and at the time her condition was thought to be non-cancerous, but cancer was found after a successful operation.

Charles was admitted to hospital just days after Kate, also for a procedure deemed unrelated to cancer.

The King
Charles has been diagnosed with a form of cancer (PA)

In February, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Charles had been diagnosed with a form of cancer, which is not prostate cancer, that was discovered while the King was being treated at the private London Clinic for an enlarged prostate.

In wishing the monarch a full recovery, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said thankfully the cancer had been “caught early”.

During a visit to Northern Ireland this week, the Queen said the King is “doing very well” and sent his “very, very best wishes” to the First and deputy First Minister.

The King has postponed public-facing duties but is said to be continuing to work behind the scenes on his red boxes – his state business and official papers.

Sarah, Duchess of York, became the third royal in quick succession to announce a medical procedure at the beginning of 2024, when she revealed a diagnosis of malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Sarah, Duchess of York
Sarah, Duchess of York revealed a diagnosis of malignant melanoma (Chris Jackson/PA)

It was her second cancer diagnosis within a year, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer which led to her undergoing a mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery.

She had discovered an early form of breast cancer during a routine mammogram screening.

“Naturally another cancer diagnosis has been a shock, but I’m in good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support,” Sarah said on Instagram.

In late February, tragedy befell Prince Michael’s family when Thomas Kingston, the husband of Michael’s daughter, Lady Gabriella Windsor, died from a “catastrophic head injury” with a gun close to his body.

For many years, it was the estrangement of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that dominated discourse around the royal family after the pair stepped down as working royals in 2020.

Having relocated to Montecito, California, Harry has returned to the UK infrequently but did so after the King’s cancer diagnosis.

Though the duke only conducted a whirlwind 45-minute meeting with his father, Harry suggested that the King’s cancer diagnosis could lead to a reconciliation with the family.

Asked by a US breakfast show if the diagnosis could have a “re-unifying effect”, Harry replied: “Yeah, I am sure.”