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King Charles III Diagnosed With Cancer; Prince William Expected To Be Public Face Of Monarchy; Prince Harry to Visit King In Coming Days. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 13:30   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Surely, there are instances in the past when surgery is performed, or they are out of commission in a variety of ways.

We should note that the statement from Buckingham Palace is certainly making it sound like he will continue with a significant portion of his duties.

But what are you expecting to see, given that his doctors have told him to scale back the public-facing duties? And if things were to get worse and more serious, what would we see in terms of others stepping in?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes, this is a big and important constitutional situation. And it is one that we have not seen for a long time potentially because the queen was always in good health throughout her life until the very end.

And her own father, it was kept very secret, George VI, when he was very ill from cancer and dying. It was very unknown. There was no public announcement.

So a very different world now. And the king has been very honest. He said he wants to talk about it and stop speculation. And also raise awareness for all the people suffering from cancer. It is a disease across the world.

And if we have a situation where he has to have an operation -- what we hear is that he is commencing regular treatment, which I think it is not too much to speculate that he is going in for radiotherapy or chemotherapy, early detection to beat the cancer.

But if there is such a thing as an operation, if he will be incapacitated for a long period of time, what happens is the counsellors of state step in.

You might think immediately it is Prince William but it is not. It's the counsellors of state. That is Camilla, William and also Harry -- there is Andrew but he is out of the picture -- Edward, and Ann and Kate is part of the picture.

You have to have at least two of them doing the job. Less than two is a problem. Normally, about four. And they will do all the work for the king at various engagements.

What is really important is his constitutional duties. Because anyone can step in for his general meetings and engagements, giving out awards at the palace.

What is important is his constitutional duties. It is the meeting with the prime minister and signing laws. That is what is made clear that he will be holding onto.

The queen did that right until the very end. She met Liz Truss, the prime minister, and then passed away two days later.

The king said I will keep going home, do it all through home, going through my red boxes. You will not see me out and about, but I am still king in every way, we don't need the counsellors of state yet.

But I think, informally, what we will see is Prince William taking on a lot of the duties and a lot of the engagements.

He is already under pressure, with Kate recovering and being out of action. So we will see Prince William taking a lot of the engagements on, informally.

And I think, certainly, for the next couple of months, the public- facing key role of the monarchy, the lead role of the monarchy will be occupied by Prince William.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Everyone please stand by.

We have much more on our breaking news coverage ahead. King Charles III diagnosed with a form of cancer. Stay with CNN.



SANCHEZ: We are following breaking news out of the U.K. this afternoon. Buckingham Palace announcing that King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer.

This comes after he had a recent hospital procedure for a benign prostate enlargement. That is when a separate issue of concern was noted. We have learned from a source close to Buckingham Palace that it is not prostate cancer that he is dealing with.

But we learned the king will continue official state business and official paperwork as usual, even though his doctors told him to scale back his public-facing duties.

Still a lot of questions to be answered. Even as Buckingham Palace said they announced it for the sake of transparency, a lot of speculation over what challenges he might be facing.

MARQUARDT: Yes, they said they put out this statement and they chose to share this diagnosis to prevent speculation. That's their phrasing. They are not necessarily sharing his diagnosis. They are just saying it is a form of cancer.

I want to bring back in our panel of experts.

And, Jonathan Reiner, to you.

I think it's fair that you would like more transparency. A moment ago, we were talking about the fact that this can be a teachable moment and help the public.

That is something the royal family has recognized and King Charles said in alerting the public that he was going into the hospital.

What do you make of the statement where they talk about a form of cancer, they say he was diagnosed with a form of cancer, but do not give the kind of cancer. Does this not fuel more speculation?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it is quite ominous. During his original hospitalization for benign prostate hypertrophy, the palace went out of its way to remind the public that he did not have cancer, it was important for them to say he did not have cancer.

Now that there is a different diagnosis the palace is very reticent to give any detail at all. It just serves to fuel speculation and concern among the public.


I think when public figures face serious illnesses, like heart disease and cancer, deep stigmatizing those diagnoses. Letting the air out of that and being frank with the public, it goes a long way.

The king wanted to use the last procedure to get men to be more forthright about being checked.

Again, I think when you talk about your own diagnosis and your own struggle, you humanize yourself and also you motivate people to be more proactive about their own health.

So I hope the palace uses this as an opportunity to be more transparent and help the British public understand better where the monarch is right now.

SANCHEZ: We also have Max Foster with us.

And, Max, we are getting an important update regarding the cancer diagnosis. We have learned the duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, has reached out to his father, King Charles, about the cancer diagnosis. The two of them did speak.

And apparently, Prince Harry is going to be traveling to the U.K. to see the king in the coming days.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, I was just put in contact with them and they gave me that information. In terms of the alarm, this, in a way, this does add to it that Harry

feels he needs to come over. But of course, you would want to come if your father was ill anyway.

I think this is all a case of trying to manage public concern in this situation. But with Harry coming over, it does show that he is concerned. And the bar of him coming over is much higher because he has been estranged from the family currently. But good news that he is speaking to his father and able to support him.

Of course, this is Kensington Palace. Waiting to hear Prince William will be making a statement. I'm sure he will at some point.

But there is also this, you know, will to try to keep calm amongst the United Kingdom and not worry people too much. It is a careful balancing act.

When you get a headline saying that the king has cancer, it will create a certain level of alarm and the palace will deal with it in a way that they often do.

We did have speculation around how Queen Elizabeth died. That was a great frustration for them. But they did stick to that system where they did not give the exact details of what ultimately killed her.

They still have not told us since. And I doubt they ever will because it is a very small group of people that have access to that information.

The king does have a significant medical team, an official medical team of Buckingham Palace, but he also has his own private doctor that travels with him.

When I am traveling with the king, the doctor would often be alongside me. That could be an abundance of caution. But ultimately, there is always concern about someone in their 70s in such a pressurized role.

And people will be wondering exactly what it is. So you cannot really avoid the speculation. But Prince Harry coming over, we will wait and see if we get an update from his office.

MARQUARDT: I want to bring in CNN royal commentator, Emily Nash.

Emily, with this news that Prince Harry has spoken with his father and will be traveling to the United Kingdom, I think this serves as a reminder that, at the end of the day, this is a family.

They have had their trouble recently. This was once a very tight-knit family that has been fraying of late.

The issues of Prince Andrew, who no longer performs royal duties, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, choosing to no longer undertake royal duties either.

But as is so often the case, when you have a serious medical diagnosis and, in particular, a cancer diagnosis, that will bring families back together.

To what extent do you think we will see the royal family behave perhaps in the coming days as a more normal family, if you will, as they try to balance the fact that they are not a normal family.

EMILY NASH, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, this is one of those moments that happen in life where people do forget about what is going on, water under the bridge, and they will spend time together.

And I think it is fantastic that there is going to be this meeting and that the family will rally around the king.

So it's a really difficult moment for him. He thought he was undergoing treatment that was fairly straightforward and fairly routine and he comes out with a new diagnosis.


And he obviously wanted to tell his sons in person, or personally over the phone. I understand that the prince of Wales is in very regular contact with his father as well.

It really does really humanize them. It is a reminder that most people watching this may know someone or will be affected by cancer themselves. It is very much a reminder that they are human beings, at the end of the day.

SANCHEZ: I do want to get back to Max Foster for a moment.

Because, Max, this also comes at an interesting time for politics in the U.K. You have a cost-of-living crisis, questions about the future of government.

Obviously, elections have to be called before the end of the year. Some folks are calling for them to come sooner. And the king has to actually invite the prime minister, according to British policy, to make a new administration.

How can this potentially complicate that process?

FOSTER: Yes, but even to appoint the prime minister to build that administration. We have been told clearly that the key matters of state will continue to be held by the king and he is able to carry them out. So very much reassurance on that level.

You're right. The system here is that the monarchy represents the nation, it represents continuity.

You will remember, in times past, not that long ago, during Brexit and Boris Johnson's administration, there was a huge amount of chaos in British politics.

The queen very successfully made more appearances and stepped up to represent that continuity and it did reassure the British people that, while one side of the constitution was falling apart, the other side is standing firm. That is what they represent.

In a year of an election, if it does get very chaotic, they will look to the monarchy. It is the thing that British people do.

And King Charles will not be there for the foreseeable future as we understand it. But let's hope that he gets better so we do see him.

Until then, it will be Queen Camilla and the prince of Wales representing the monarchy. And we will see Prince William turning up to key constitutional events in his father's place. And it will feel different in the monarchy.

And when you consider the queen was on -- Queen Elizabeth was on the throne for so many years and we are used to so much stability within the monarchy, it does unnerve people when different parts of the constitutions start looking shaking, as it were.

That this will be the job of the palace and the king to really represent the continuity. And they have lots of experience, essentially centuries of experience of doing that. So they have their system for doing that.

But this is really the key job right now until we hear an update from the king.

MARQUARDT: They certainly have their systems. Though the past is certainly clashing with the more modern era is something that the royal family recognizes with the level of transparency that we have seen from them, certainly on the medical front, in the last few weeks.

Though we appear to be at least starting to see some of the limits of that transparency. So they certainly have a lot to figure out. And there certainly are some major questions that remain.

I'm going to ask you all to stay with us. There is a lot more to discuss on this breaking news of King Charles III's cancer diagnosis.

We will be right back after this quick break.



MARQUARDT: And we are back with our breaking news that King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer. A statement just out a short time ago from Buckingham Palace saying that he has been diagnosed with a form of cancer. They did not specify what kind of cancer it is.

There you can see him leaving the hospital just a few days ago, on January 29th, with his wife, Queen Camilla. He had been in that London hospital for treatment for what they called a benign prostate enlargement.

Then, according to Buckingham Palace, during the course of the examinations, while he was in the hospital, there was a separate issue of concern that was noted. Buckingham Palace today saying that they are revealing this cancer diagnosis to prevent speculation. But at the same time, not specifying what exactly King Charles III is dealing with right now.

I want to bring in Kristin Meinzer, who is a royal watcher. She is the host of "The Daily Fail" podcast.

Kristen, thank you so much for joining us.

What stands out to you in the way that Buckingham Palace is communicating this news today?

KRISTEN MEINZER, ROYAL WATCHER & HOST, "THE DAILY FAIL" PODCAST: You know, one of the things that is most notable to me is the difference between this messaging and the messaging around Kate Middleton's recent procedure.

As we know, she had planned abdominal surgery right around the same time King Charles was having treatment for his enlarged prostate.

And the palace has made clear that it is not cancerous and -- in the case of Kate Middleton. But they're also choosing to tell us nothing beyond that, saying that she would like to maintain her privacy at this point.

I think it is interesting that in terms of King Charles, there has been a lot more transparency. Speaking frankly about his prostate, speaking frankly about this cancer diagnosis.

And supposedly, this is King Charles' attempt to demystify these things and to be transparent, as the new statement says.

Even though it is not 100 percent transparency, we don't know what we're dealing with here, I think it does, in some ways, reassure the public to know that there is at least a name for it, there's something that they can point to. They can say this is what's going on here.


And in that way, it is very different with Kate. There is still a lot of speculation in the press and the tabloids and the public and so on about what is really happening with Kate.

SANCHEZ: Kristen, quickly, the king is now the latest member of the royal family to be dealing with cancer. Because just a few days ago, it was announced that Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York, also known as "Fergie," is now dealing with a rare kind of skin cancer. Is that right?

MEINZER: Yes. And this is not Fergie's first instance of dealing with cancer. Also the queen, in her later years, was dealing with bone cancer. So they are still mortal. They are still human.

And you know, over a third of cancer cases happen in the U.K. in people who are over 75. King Charles is in that category of people. So he is mortal. His family is mortal. He's of a certain age. These

things happen, unfortunately. But he does have the absolute best care in the world. Far better care than most of us could ever dream of having.

And he is being well taken care of. He's got medical professionals around the clock keeping an eye on him and making sure that he is getting what he can get to address this situation.

SANCHEZ: Kristen, thank you so much.

Please stand by as we continue to cover the breaking news. King Charles III diagnosed with a form of cancer.

Stay with CNN. We are back in moments.