King Charles III is set to undergo surgery next week to treat an enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace announced Tuesday, just one day after it emerged his daughter-in-law Kate, the Princess of Wales, was hospitalized for abdominal surgery.
King’s Prostate Procedure Set for Monday
The 74-year-old monarch will have the operation on January 23 at a London hospital. According to Professor Christopher Eden, a leading urologist, “It is anticipated the surgery and recovery will allow His Majesty to resume full duties next month.”
Charles has suffered from symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which causes the prostate gland to enlarge and press on the urethra. This can cause problems with urinating.
About six million men in Britain suffer from symptoms of an enlarged prostate, which affects one in three men over the age of 50 and 80 per cent of men in their 70s, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
Treating BPH is considered relatively routine and is commonly performed on older men with varying degrees of success. Possible treatments range from drugs to surgery, depending on symptoms and the prostate’s size. 50,000 prostate procedures take place across the UK each year.
Doctors said Charles will likely have a minimally invasive surgical procedure to relieve the pressure. Such procedures take about 90 minutes and involve inserting instruments through small cuts rather than opening up the abdomen.
“This is something that many men of his age have,” said Dr. Tanmaya Sahu, a urologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, explaining the king’s condition.
Sahu said the operation aims to “effectively unblock the urethra.” Risks of the surgery include infection and bleeding. Dr. John Feller, a gastroenterologist at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut said “Benign prostatic hyperplasia sounds like a scary thing, but it is typically not a medical emergency or a major health threat.”
Charles will spend a night in the hospital after the surgery, which will be performed under general anaesthetic. Professor Eden said: “We expect the King to make a full recovery.”
Buckingham Palace said the monarch remains in “good spirits” as he prepares for the operation at King Edward VII hospital, which bills itself as “the hospital of choice for royalty and celebrities.” William, when he was an infant, had an operation at the private hospital to repair a fractured skull after being accidentally struck by a golf club.
The Palace said Charles’ schedule will be cleared for a week following the surgery. Vice Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, the Master of the King’s Household, said the monarch was “typically stoic” and “calm” despite the upcoming operation.
Charles Asks Harry, Meghan to Visit Amid Health Issues
There has been tension in the royal family since Harry and his wife, Meghan, moved to California in 2020 and quit royal duties. When Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II died last year, the prince and Meghan mourned with the family in the U.K. But any reconciliation seems fragile.
Harry has made thinly veiled criticisms of the royal family since returning to the U.S., where he and Meghan live in Southern California. In interviews, he has said the palace failed to defend him and his wife against lies and racism.
But behind the scenes, Charles has pleaded for unity between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the royal family amid the monarch’s enlarged prostate surgery next week. A senior royal source revealed exclusively to the Mirror that there are hopes the duke, 38, and duchess, 41, will travel from California to visit Charles, 74, when he recovers from his operation.
The relationship between Harry and his dad has been strained in recent years after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back as senior royals and moved to the U.S. But there are hopes his recent surgery announcement could help reunite the family.
Charles is thought to want Harry and Meghan by his side as he recovers from the key prostate procedure he faces on Monday.
A senior royal insider said: “The King values family unity above all else and hopes that the entire family can pull together at this exceptionally difficult time.”
The source said Charles had conveyed to Harry that both he and Meghan were welcome at any point, including next week, if the duke were to make a transatlantic dash to see his father.
They went on: “The King understands that travel arrangements at short notice aren’t always feasible, but there would be immense joy were Harry able to be there.”
Kate Middleton Recovering After Rare Bowel Surgery
Kate, the wife of Prince William, underwent abdominal surgery and scrapings were taken for biopsy during a three-hour long operation carried out Monday at a private London hospital, King Edward VII.
The surgery was intended to diagnose the cause of Kate’s suffering from acute nausea and vomiting, which forced her to cancel recent public engagements, including with Charles and Queen Camilla.
She will remain in the hospital for up to two weeks while she recovers from surgery, according to the palace. William visited her in the hospital along with her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, the palace explained: “The Princess of Wales was admitted to hospital yesterday for planned abdominal surgery to treat acute nausea and vomiting. Today, her doctors performed a laparotomy, a surgical procedure in which an incision is made through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity.”
“During the procedure, surgeons took biopsies which will now be sent for histopathological testing. This will allow doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and advise on any required treatment options.”
Professor Nigel Barley, a consultant colorectal surgeon in London, said Kate’s symptoms suggest she may have a severe form of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
While nagging questions about the health of Britain’s royals are not uncommon, the recent medical disclosures concerning three of the monarchy’s most senior figures — as well as the death of Queen Elizabeth II at 96 last September — have fueled public curiosity about the fitness of King Charles III and his heirs.
Barley said Kate’s symptoms suggest she may have a severe form of irritable bowel syndrome. The condition “can be aggravated by stress; that wouldn’t surprise me at all,’’ the doctor said.
While potentially painful and debilitating, the illness should not compromise the ability of the Princess of Wales to have more children or otherwise carry out royal duties, experts said. Dartmouth medical school’s Cappello said there are various ways to treat the condition, including diet and stress management, without surgery.
Professor Robin Phillips, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, said laparotomies have some risks but are generally well tolerated by patients.
“It allows direct visualization of organs for biopsies or treatment,” he said. “Although no surgery is without risks, a laparotomy for an otherwise fit and healthy person like the Princess of Wales should have minimal risks and would allow for a rapid recovery.”
William was at his wife’s side for about 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon. The prince was seen entering and exiting the hospital, which is located in central London.
The couple have three children — Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and 4-year-old Prince Louis. Charlotte is second in line to the throne behind her father, while George after her and Louis in the fourth position.
During her hospitalization, Kate is receiving care at the private Lindo Wing at King Edward VII’s Hospital, which has a longtime association with the royal family. Princess Diana gave birth to William and his brother Prince Harry in the hospital in the 1980s.
What Comes Next
Professor Eden says the surgery next week is expected to relieve the king’s symptoms within a few weeks. Typical recovery times for similar procedures range from one to three weeks. During Charles’ recovery, his royal duties will be handled by his son, Prince William, who may need to step in and temporarily assume the monarch’s responsibilities. However, William will likely remain focused on caring for Kate as she recovers from her own hospitalization.
Vice Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt said the king’s staff is informing the governments where Charles is head of state and that the royal households are “very grateful” for all the messages of support the king has received from the public.
In the longer term, Charles’ recent health scare at age 74 has focused attention on the looming transition to Prince William, next in line, as Britain’s head of state. It has also drawn concern around the health of Queen Camilla, and William’s ability to manage additional duties with Kate hospitalized.
While royal officials have long talked of Charles as the “transition” monarch between Elizabeth II and William, Britons have become so accustomed to Elizabeth’s seven decades on the throne that many struggle to envision the reign of a king with perhaps two decades at most left.
Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty Magazine, said the back-to-back health disclosures make it difficult not to speculate about the future of the monarchy.
“It takes the spotlight off Charles succeeding after the death of Queen Elizabeth II and discussion around his coronation plans, and focuses it firmly on the next phase, William succeeding his father,” Little said. “The timing of this makes it difficult not to think about the line of succession.”
How might Charles’ and Kate’s health issues impact perceptions of the monarchy and its future?
What effects could their hospitalizations have on family tensions with Harry and Meghan?
Do you think the recent health disclosures will increase public support for William and Catherine taking on more royal duties sooner? Why or why not?
Should there be more transparency around the health of high-profile figures like the royal family to prepare for potential transitions of power? What are the pros and cons?
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