• World
  • royals

King Charles Holds Hands With Cancer Patients in First Public Outing Since His Own Diagnosis

3 minute read

King Charles III officially returned to public duties on Tuesday, following a months-long period of recuperation since being diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer in February. 

The 75-year-old monarch opted for a cause close to home to mark his return to work. King Charles and Queen Camilla visited a cancer treatment center in London, where he greeted doctors, held hands with patients, and gave out gifts to children. They were also joined by Baroness Neuberger, chairman of University London College Hospitals, and David Probert, its chief executive.

The visit marked the King’s first official public visit since his cancer diagnosis since cutting back his duties while undergoing cancer treatment. It aimed to emphasize the significance of early cancer diagnosis and highlight the lifesaving research conducted at the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre. 

The royal couple met the team responsible for TRACERx, the single biggest investment in lung cancer research by Cancer Research UK. The King will also take over from his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, as the patron of the cancer charity. 

“His Majesty’s treatment programme will continue, but doctors are sufficiently pleased with the progress made so far that the King is now able to resume a number of public-facing duties,” Buckingham Palace said ahead of Tuesday’s visit.

It is understood that the King will have a fuller schedule throughout May, which will also see Prince Harry return to London for an event. Their overlapping schedules have led to observers speculating about a father and son reunion.

The King is not the only royal battling cancer. In March, Kate Middleton revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer following planned abdominal surgery earlier in the year. The 42-year-old made her health condition public after months of intense speculation—and far fetched conspiracy theories—about her whereabouts. 

The Duke of Sussex will travel from his California home to London for a ceremony to mark the 10 year anniversary of the Invictus Games, a sporting event for wounded veterans. The “service of thanksgiving” will take place on March 8 at St Paul’s Cathedral.

While the King will be in London during Harry’s visit, it is understood that his schedule that week will be packed, the Telegraph reported. According to the British newspaper, Charles and Harry are still likely to meet if their schedules allow it. 

On the day of Harry’s engagement, King Charles will attend his weekly meeting with the U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and—if he is well enough—attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The monarch will also have various other commitments throughout the week.

The King is also expected to host a state visit for the Emperor and Empress of Japan in late June. However, his plans for fixed calendar royal events, such as Trooping the Colour and D-Day commemorations, remain uncertain.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com