The British Royal Family Suddenly Cancels Numerous Planned Engagements Amid an Already Chaotic 2024

Expect to see very little of the royals for the next six weeks, as the fate of this year’s Trooping the Colour and a planned Japanese state visit hang in the balance.

King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William
(Image credit: Getty)

Today, May 23, Prince William was scheduled to take part in a planned royal engagement—which he abruptly canceled last minute. The decision to do so has nothing to do with Princess Kate’s health, but rather was made after guidance from Buckingham Palace surrounding a surprise general election called by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday, scheduled for July 4—six weeks from today.

King Charles

The King holds an audience every Wednesday with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As such, the royal family has largely halted all royal engagements during that time period, leaving it up to question whether Trooping the Colour (the British monarch’s annual birthday parade, set this year for June 15) or the scheduled Japanese state visit next month will continue.

This announcement comes just less than a month after King Charles returned to public facing royal duty on April 30 after three months away—first, for a routine prostate procedure on January 26, and then, after cancer was detected during the procedure, treatment for cancer. The King, too, has canceled a planned engagement for tomorrow—a visit to the British car manufacturer, Bentley—and the King and Queen Camilla released a statement yesterday stating that all royal engagements “which may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign” had been either canceled or postponed. In regards to the canceled appearances, Buckingham Palace said the King and Queen sent their “sincere apologies” to those affected. 

In regards to William’s canceled appearance today, Kensington Palace said “We look forward to rescheduling in the future and are extremely sorry to anyone who has already traveled,” per Hello.  

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak makes a speech during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 06, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the other Commonwealth realms takes place at Westminster Abbey today. Charles acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.

Sunak announced yesterday that there would be a special general election on July 4.

(Image credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

The decision to suspend royal engagements was made after Charles met with Sunak yesterday for their usual Wednesday private audience and after the King agreed with Sunak’s request to dissolve Parliament. The results of the July 4 election will determine if Sunak’s Conservative Party is voted out of government, and if so, the King will be set for a third Prime Minister in less than two years of being on the throne. (Former Prime Minister Liz Truss stepped down less than six weeks into Charles’ reign, which began on September 8, 2022; Sunak is his second Prime Minister.)

“Following the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon calling a general election, the royal family will, in accordance with normal procedure, postpone engagements that may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said yesterday. While it remains largely unclear which events on the very busy royal calendar for the next six weeks will make the cut or not, Charles and Camilla’s scheduled visit to Normandy, France to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of D-Day will go ahead as scheduled in June.

King Charles and Queen Camilla at the Coronation

The King and Queen apologized to those affected by the numerous cancellations.

(Image credit: Getty)

This news of the royal family suddenly taking time off follows an already strange first half of 2024, which has seen Kate out of the public eye completely (her last public engagement was on Christmas Day of last year), William taking large chunks of time off to care for his wife as she battles cancer, and the King, too, battling cancer and being away from public-facing duty for three months, from late January until his return on April 30. This decision is a chance for Charles to slow down, as Camilla has been begging him to do since his return to public facing duty just over three weeks ago. With the extremely busy calendar of events planned for late May and June—all or at least most of which may be wiped out with this decision—Camilla reportedly feared that Charles had bitten off more than he could chew as he continues to receive treatment for cancer. 

For William, this will no doubt be a welcome respite from work, as Kate herself continues to receive cancer treatment, and as his three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis go on half-term break from Lambrook School next week. This decision by Buckingham Palace now affords William “more than a month of family time,” Newsweek reports, providing the Prince of Wales “a significant silver lining, though, while for Charles, it will likely be a frustrating step backward just when he was getting back in his stride.” (The King quipped during a visit on May 9 to the Royal School of Military Engineering that he was glad to be “out of my cage” after spending months working behind the scenes and taking part in small audiences, People reports.) Newsweek added that “The disruption has added to an already chaotic royal year.” 

Prince William, Prince of Wales speaks to the mother of someone affected by suicide as he visits James' Place Newcastle on April 30, 2024 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The news comes just as William and Charles were getting back into a workflow after an already chaotic start to 2024.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ingrid Seward, longtime royal biographer and editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said she was surprised by Buckingham Palace’s decision: “I see that Prince William isn’t working at all today, so he’s already nabbed out [tapped out],” she told Newsweek. “It could be a bit of a silver lining for William, but people are already saying that William is a little workshy, which I don’t think he is. People will think it’s very odd.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.