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Archbishops assure Princess of Wales of the Church’s prayers for her recovery

22 March 2024

BBC Studios

The Princess of Wales announces that she has cancer in a video message

The Princess of Wales announces that she has cancer in a video message

THE Princess of Wales’s “spirit of optimism” has been praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, after she announced that she was receiving cancer treatment.

In a video message posted on Friday evening, Princess Catherine said: “In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.”

She said that the news had come as “a huge shock”, and it had taken time for her and the Prince of Wales to explain the situation to their children “in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.

“As I have said to them: I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body, and spirits.”

She requested that she and her family be given “some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment”.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said that the King, whose own cancer diagnosis was announced last month (News, 9 February), was “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did”, and that he remained in the “closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law”.

Responding to the news, Archbishop Welby wrote on social media: “My prayers are with the Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales, and their children at this tremendously difficult time. I join the whole country, and the world, in praying for her full recovery.

“I take this opportunity to praise her for her spirit of optimism in the face of such difficult news, and am pleased to hear that she is feeling stronger every day. Her bravery in sharing in this way and her continued commitment to supporting others speaks to her compassion and sense of service.

“Please join with me in praying for the Royal Family as they deal with this private matter, and I would urge people to respect their privacy at this time.”

Speaking on Times Radio the day before the announcement, Archbishop Welby had condemned those spreading conspiracy theories online about the Princess.

“I think we are obsessed with conspiracy, and we have little sense of the humanity of those who are caught in the glare of the news,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, people should be allowed to be ill and have an operation, whatever it is, and to live their lives in peace without everyone demanding that they prove something every other day.

“It’s the web that has made these conspiracy theories, for all kinds of people, run riot and it’s extremely unhealthy. It’s just old-fashioned village gossip that can now go around the world in seconds. . . Gossiping in that way is wrong.”

The Archbishop of York invited people to join him in praying for a speedy recovery for the Princess. “Cancer affects so many families. Today it affects the Royal Family. We send them our love and good wishes and the assurance of the prayers of the Church.”

The Church of England has published a prayer for the Princess’s continued recovery.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, wrote: “I salute the courage of the Princess of Wales in speaking so openly about her personal health. Not only does she give encouragement to all who carry the burden of ill health, but she also speaks so movingly of the importance of her family life.”

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Philip North, expressed “deep concern” at the news. “That this announcement should come so soon after the recent news of the King’s cancer diagnosis is a double blow to our Royal Family,” he said in a statement on Friday evening. “On behalf of our whole Diocese here in Lancashire I wish the Princess a speedy recovery. Catherine, Prince William, their children and their wider family are all in our prayers at this difficult time.”

The Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, who is the Acting Bishop of Coventry, was among bishops who expressed support for the Princess of Wales. “Across the parishes, schools, and communities of the diocese we hold the Princess of Wales and her family in our prayers,” she wrote on social media. “May she know the love and compassion of God, his presence and peace.”

Read more on this story in this week’s Leader comment and Letters.

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