THE King has described the public outpouring of support for him since his cancer diagnosis as “the greatest comfort and encouragement”.
In his first public statement to acknowledge the well-wishes of the nation, Charles expressed his “heartfelt thanks” for the kind messages he has received.
His Majesty, 75, is now resting at Sandringham, in Norfolk, after it was announced on Monday that he has a type of cancer.
Today, he was joined by Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, who is “on the mend” following her abdominal surgery.
The King is expected to have further cancer treatment as an out-patient in London this month and the Palace has yet to set a date for his return to frontline duties.
But The Sun on Sunday understands his planned royal tour of Canada in the spring with the Queen will be cancelled and rearranged for when he is better.
Palace sources insist they are still making arrangements for the tour and it is “too early” to rule it out.
Writing in a signed message released today, the King gave thanks for the messages of support since Monday’s announcement.
He said: “As all those who have been affected by cancer will know, such kind thoughts are the greatest comfort and encouragement.”
And in the message, written from Sandringham, he added it was “equally heartening” that sharing his diagnosis has “shone a light” on the great work carried out by cancer charities.
He said: “My lifelong admiration for their tireless care and dedication is all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.”
His Majesty has postponed all frontline engagements while he undergoes cancer treatment.
He is expected to convalesce at Windsor Castle, Highgrove and Sandringham over the coming weeks and months.
The King and Queen were set to embark on a tour of Canada in May, which would have included trips to the Arctic Circle.
But the trip, coming after three successful state visits to France, Germany and Kenya last year, will not go ahead as planned.
There is huge speculation around the King and Queen’s travel plans later in the year.
The King had been keen to appear at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa, which starts on October 21.
It would involve flying almost 10,000 miles to the South Pacific Ocean and would be held alongside the King and Queen’s first tour of Australia since the Coronation.
A tour Down Under is considered to be the “Crown Jewel” of all trips to the realms where His Majesty is Head of State.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese — a self-confessed republican — said this week he hoped the King would still be able to visit the country at some stage.
Mr Albanese previously promised Australia a referendum on ditching the monarchy if he wins a second term in office.
But last month, the Australian government said it had shelved the plan and said such a vote is “not a priority” and there is “no timeline” for it.
Australia has not received a visit from a monarch since the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2011.
Charles and Camilla have not been Down Under since 2012, when they visited to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
HIS MESSAGE IN FULL
“I would like to express my most heartfelt thanks for the many messages of support and good wishes I have received in recent days.
“As all those who have been affected by cancer will know, such kind thoughts are the greatest comfort and encouragement.
“It is equally heartening to hear how sharing my own diagnosis has helped promote public understanding and shine a light on the work of all those organisations which support cancer patients and their families across the UK and wider world.
“My lifelong admiration for their tireless care and dedication is all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.”
The King was joined in Norfolk today by the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children.
The arrival of Kate is a huge boost for those worried about her condition after she spent 13 days in hospital after abdominal surgery.
Sources say the fact she was safe to be driven 140 miles was a sign she is “on the mend”.
The trip comes in school half-term when the family usually holiday in Norfolk.
Palace sources say the couple are hoping to “normalise” the situation as much as possible for the three children, as Kate is off until April.
William is expected to stand in for his father at engagements while he is unwell.
At a London Air Ambulance gala on Wednesday, the Prince said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the kind messages of support for Catherine and for my father, especially in recent days. It means a great deal to us all.”
The King continues to carry out all constitutional roles and spoke to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the telephone on Wednesday.
He is set to meet the PM in person again on February 21, restarting their weekly audiences.
Monday’s announcement of the King’s cancer diagnosis revealed a “separate issue” had been found following a corrective procedure for an enlarged prostate.
The Palace has not confirmed the type of cancer, but it is understood not to be the prostate.
His Majesty is said to be receiving “pioneering” treatment and will return regularly to London for care.
Palace sources say he wanted to be open about his condition to “prevent speculation” and “assist public understanding” about cancer.
Macmillan Cancer Support, of which he is patron, experienced the “King Charles effect” when its web pages saw 48,304 hits after his diagnosis was announced.
That was a 42 per cent increase on the same day last year and the highest daily figure in four years.
NHS England also reported a 51 per cent rise in visits to its web page on cancer symptoms.
Numbers peaked in the hour after the initial statement, with 1,530 visits — an average of one every three seconds.
It also sparked 26,170 visits to the NHS website — compared to a daily average of 1,400 earlier in the week.
There was one visit every 13 seconds to the NHS website for information on the disease in the two days following the announcement.