How King Charles Could ‘Shut Down Speculation’ About His Health at Easter

One former courtier told The Daily Beast, “If he can walk to church and wave and smile, that will shut down any speculation that he is not actually doing so well.”Published Mar. 26, 2024 8:02PM EDT Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty ImagesJust this weekend, King Charles’ nephew, Peter Philips, told an Australian news channel that

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One former courtier told The Daily Beast, “If he can walk to church and wave and smile, that will shut down any speculation that he is not actually doing so well.”

Tom Sykes

A photo illustration of King Charles.

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Just this weekend, King Charles’ nephew, Peter Philips, told an Australian news channel that his uncle was “frustrated” by the restrictions on his activities that his treatment for cancer inevitably involved.

Phillips, the son of Princess Anne, told Sky News Australia in an interview: “He’s frustrated that he can’t get on and do everything that he wants to be able to do…He is always pushing his staff and everybody—his doctors and nurses—to be able to say, ‘Actually can I do this, can I do that?’”

On Tuesday, it appeared that Charles had won one of these battles, apparently successfully persuading his family and advisors that he would be well able to attend church on Easter Sunday—even if, as one official source told The Daily Beast, it will be “a smaller scale royal turnout,” with neither Kate Middleton nor Prince William making an appearance.

Big or small, however, an Easter Day appearance by the cancer-stricken king will be an important signal, after a tumultuous few months, that the royal family may be down, but are not out for the count.

One former courtier told The Daily Beast the appearance would be an opportunity for Charles to counter any negative speculation around his health.

Tina Brown, the founding editor of The Daily Beast and an unrivaled royal expert, seemed to allude in passing to these rumors in a recent opinion piece for the New York Times, writing the “news of Charles’ cancer has put William and Catherine in frightening proximity to ascending the throne just when they had hoped for a span of years to parent their children out of the public eye. The prospect of it, I am told, is causing them intense anxiety.”

The former staffer told The Daily Beast: “There has of course been concern about Charles’ health as there would be for anyone who said they had cancer. But if he can walk to church and wave and smile, that will shut down any speculation that he is not actually doing so well. Announcing his attendance in advance is a sign of confidence because, if for any reason he now can’t go, everyone will assume he is at death’s door.”

A friend of Charles and Queen Camilla told The Daily Beast that Camilla was “thrilled” her husband was going to be attending the Easter Day service. Camilla has been standing in for her husband at a series of events and is due to attend an important Maundy Thursday church service this week.

The king’s determination to remain part of public life (he has made a point of being driven around London to his various medical appointments in a state vehicle with big windows in recent weeks) means he will be far from absent; it is understood an audio message recorded by Charles, which does not reference his recent health struggles, will be played at the service.

King Charles and Queen Camilla stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony following their coronation ceremony in London, Britain May 6, 2src23.

King Charles and Queen Camilla stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony following their coronation ceremony in London, Britain May 6, 2023.

Hannah McKay/Reuters

The king has taken a very different approach to Princess Kate over his illness, insisting on visibility and inserting himself into the national conversation. An Easter Sunday walkabout is the logical next step. Of course, he doesn’t have young children of school age to protect, a fact which has driven almost all of William and Kate’s strategy.

More importantly, of course, he is also the monarch, and the example here is his mother, who never let her bone cancer, which can be a very painful condition, stop her from making her way out onto the balcony when she needed to.

It will be an immensely positive news hit for the battered royal family for the world to see Charles on Easter Sunday, and no doubt he will be looking forward to getting back to business, just as his nephew said.

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