Prince William “Wasn’t Emotionally Prepared” for the Dual Cancer Diagnoses of His Wife, Princess Kate, and His Father, King Charles, Royal Expert Says

As William prepares to turn 42 years old in a week’s time, the Prince of Wales has proven himself “more than competent and capable” of stepping up in their absence throughout 2024.

Prince William
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince William turns 42 one week from tomorrow, on June 21—and, while the first half of his 41st year was mostly business as usual, the latter half has been anything but. It takes a different kind of strength and resilience—an almost superhuman kind of strength and resilience—to weather the dual cancer diagnoses of your wife and father, while raising three kids 10 years old and under, while continuing to work, while the entire world is watching. But that’s what William’s 2024 has looked like.

Prince William

William, seen here at a Buckingham Palace garden party last month, turns 42 on June 21.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prayerfully, his 42nd year will be much smoother waters than the monsoon these past six months have brought on his life. When it comes to what life has been like for the Prince of Wales in 2024, royal historian Gareth Russell told Us Weekly “maybe he wasn’t emotionally prepared for it,” he said. (After all, in all fairness, who among us is prepared for hearing that your father and your wife—who were going in for seemingly routine procedures—both have cancer?) William losing his beloved mother, Princess Diana, at just 15 years old and knowing the immense grief that comes from a loss like that couldn’t have made this tumultuous time any easier.

Of his father the King, Russell said that Charles “yes, is elderly, but his father was famously quite healthy and lives well, eats well, and, according to his wife, Queen Camilla, just never stops walking,” he said of the shock William must have felt at his diagnosis. Every cancer diagnosis is shocking, but maybe none more so than Kate’s, who is young (only 42 herself), fit, and active. Both Charles and Kate’s specific type and stage of cancer have not been publicly disclosed, and they may never be publicly disclosed.

prince charles kate middleton prince william

William has had to deal with the double blow of both his wife and his father battling cancer at the same time, and in the public eye, at that.

(Image credit: WPA Pool)

Despite it all, Russell said that “so far” William has shown himself to be “more than competent and capable” of stepping up in their absence. Though the King is now back on public duty, he remained behind the scenes from the day he announced his diagnosis on February 5 until his return to public engagements on April 30; Kate, for her part, hasn’t been on royal duty since Christmas Day 2023 and the annual church service at St. Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham Estate that the entire royal family traditionally attends. Her return date remains ambiguous, with some speculating it could be as far out as next year.

As for this time period in William’s life, “It’s been stressful,” a source told Us Weekly in April. “William feels a profound sense of duty to uphold the monarchy’s stability and inspire confidence in the public that everything will be okay. It’s an immense responsibility.” 

Prince William

Despite it all, William has still been himself while out on royal engagements, a longtime royal photographer said.

(Image credit: Getty)

Longtime royal photographer Samir Hussein—who, along with his father, Anwar, and his brother, Zak, have photographed the royal family’s biggest moments for decades—told Us Weekly that William is “still being himself” despite the “trying circumstances” of these past few months: “I think it remains very positive that Prince William has really stepped up to the mark with the King being out of action for a few months,” he said. “Prince William’s been through so much, obviously, with what’s been happening with Kate, which we didn’t know about for so long. I think he’s done remarkably well in really, really trying circumstances.”

He added of William’s demeanor at royal engagements lately that “He’s still being himself on engagements, he’s still been joking when he meets with the public. I think you can see this, just, determination from him to come through this, both for his father and his wife [during] what must be incredibly tough times for him.”

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.