This Royal Family Member Urged King Charles to Break Royal Protocol and Come Forward with His Cancer Diagnosis

It’s in stark contrast to Charles' grandfather King George VI, who died 72 years ago today from cancer—of which the public was totally unaware.

King Charles
(Image credit: Getty)

Eerily, 72 years ago today, King George VI (Queen Elizabeth’s father and King Charles’ grandfather) died of lung cancer at just 56 years old; the public didn’t know he was ill, and his health issues were completely kept a secret.

On the eve of the anniversary of his grandfather’s death, Charles broke royal protocol and openly announced his own cancer diagnosis—though its stage and what specific type of cancer it is was not disclosed. Regardless, the public knowing at all about such a major health event is a step forward for the monarchy, and it appears we have Queen Camilla to thank for it. 

Queen Camilla in France

Queen Camilla, seen here in France last year, is largely to thank for the public knowing about King Charles' cancer diagnosis

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Mirror reports that Camilla urged Charles to break with royal tradition and announce his illness, which Buckingham Palace did yesterday—the same day the King began outpatient treatment. Traditionally, members of the royal family keep medical issues close to the vest as they understandably want privacy, but after seeing how speaking publicly about his enlarged prostate encouraged thousands of men to look into the matter in their own lives, Camilla likely encouraged her husband to replicate the effort when it came to his new diagnosis.

“I’m sure Camilla will have encouraged the King to break with royal tradition and be open about his diagnosis,” former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond told The Mirror. “She’s a very straightforward person, which is one of the most refreshing things about her.” 

King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla

Though the King and Queen married in 2005, they had been in love for decades

(Image credit: Getty)

Camilla is continuing to work amidst Charles’ announcement, “and, when she’s not out on maneuvers for the Firm, she’ll be fussing over him like any other doting wife,” Bond said. “For a couple in their mid- to late seventies, news like this is a sharp and unwelcome reminder of human mortality. But they both have a big job to do, with limited years to do it. And so they may well see this as a blessing in disguise. A cancer has been detected, it is being treated, and the expectation is that the King will be back to full time duties just as soon as possible.”

The once-maligned future queen is proving to be the perfect partner for her husband, in sickness and in health. Bond said Camilla is an “invaluable weapon in his arsenal as he faces the undeniable shock of a cancer diagnosis,” adding “She has the sunniest of temperaments and her default mode is to be upbeat and cheerful. For a man who has always had a slight tendency to brood on things, that attitude could be one of the most important factors on his road to recovery. Don’t get me wrong—the Queen will, of course, be shocked and hugely concerned that the man she adores has been beset by a double whammy of health problems. But her positive attitude to life in general will undoubtedly help the King as he continues his treatment.”

Queen Camilla

The Queen is currently one of the only senior royals still actively working amidst the royal family's multiple health scares

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Camilla is tough as nails, and even had the fortitude to open a cancer center just days ago—one of her pre-planned royal engagements—while knowing full well that her husband had just been diagnosed with the disease. “It’s worth noting that, as she has taken up the royal workload in recent days—with the King, the Prince and Princess of Wales all out of action—she must have had the underlying worry about her husband facing a new scare,” Bond said. “It was brave, but she showed no sign of cracking under the pressure.”

Once seen as wholly unsuitable for Charles—before either were married and certainly after both had married other people and carried on an extramarital affair—it turns out that Camilla is exactly the woman the royal family needs in this moment.

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.