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Prayers and messages of good will sent to the King after cancer diagnosis

05 February 2024


The King and Queen arriving at a service at St Mary Magdalene’s, Sandringham, in Norfolk on Sunday

The King and Queen arriving at a service at St Mary Magdalene’s, Sandringham, in Norfolk on Sunday

ARCHBISHOPS and bishops have led calls for prayer for the swift recovery of the King, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

The King will be postponing public-facing duties while he undergoes treatment, Buckingham Palace announced on Monday evening.

During his recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, “a separate issue of concern was noted,” the statement from the Palace said. “Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer. His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.”

The statement continued: “The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.

“His Majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.”

No further details were given of the diagnosis.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, released a statement on Monday evening, saying that he was “deeply concerned” to hear the news. “We wish to assure [the King] of our special prayers for his swift recovery to full health. His Majesty has always had a special relationship with the people of Wales, and I know they will hold him and his family in their hearts and in their thoughts at this time.”

The Archbishop of York posted on social media: “Please join me in praying for His Majesty the King and all the Royal Family. May he and all who suffer with cancer know the healing presence of God’s love.”

This was echoed by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who wrote: “Praying for His Majesty for his treatment and the Royal family as they support him.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury is out of the country, in Ukraine. Later on Monday evening, he posted a short statement on social media: “I’m praying this evening for King and his family — for God’s comfort and strength in the weeks and months to come. I wish His Majesty a swift and full recovery.”

Other church leaders have continued to post prayers and messages of good will on social media this week.

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Philip North, released a statement expressing his “shock” at the diagnosis, and offering his “prayers and very best wishes to the King at this difficult time. We give thanks that the discovery of the cancer, during recent medical treatment, has allowed swift intervention by doctors.”

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, said: “I speak for us all in the diocese of Winchester when I say that we are very concerned to hear of His Majesty’s illness, and assure him and the Queen of our prayers for his return to full health.”

Archbishop Cottrell told Radio 4’s Today programme that he believed that the King’s personal faith would help him with the diagnosis. “I know that he is a man of strong faith, a man who wants to support all faiths, which is why I imagine people of all faiths will be praying for him and I know that his faith will sustain him through the treatment that he will be receiving, and hopefully to a swift recovery and return to health.”

He later told Radio 4’s The World at One: “Whenever we hear about someone getting cancer, we inevitably think of ourselves and our own mortality and frailty. We think about those we love, who are also ill. . .

“Obviously, I do look at things from the point of view of the Christian narrative. . . We talk about a God who has become a human being, who knows what it’s like to be human, who participates in the drama and trials and sorrows of human life – not to take away those troubles, but to be with us in them and through them.

“It doesn’t take away fear but it does give me strength and solace. And from what I know of the King, that’ll be where he’s turning today and has been in recent days, because that’s the foundation of his whole life.”

He suggested that the Coronation had brought the nation together in a way that the “prophets of doom” had thought would never happen. “Amazingly, the values of our King, which, frankly, 30 or 40 years ago were being ridiculed, are now so relevant and so important,” he said. “He is a King for our times.”

Read more on this story in this week’s Leader comment here

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