King returns to duties to join Queen in continuing work they hope will define their moment in history


The King and Queen have spent the weekend at Highgrove, probably the least regal of their residences.

Today there will be no big fanfare compared to the spectacle they experienced at Buckingham Palace last year on Coronation Day, just private time and maybe a chance to reflect on what a year it’s been.

As one palace insider put it, the contrast between a day of “carriages, crowns and crowds to cancer” and doctors’ orders to retreat from public life couldn’t have been more extreme.

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The King returned to public duties this week

For the King I’m told it has been a time of “personal frustration that he could not be more involved” in the ways he usually would, but his “appetite for work and passion for his causes has in no way been diminished”.

He’s never been a man content with simple reflection, he’s always wanted to see action.

It means that alongside his treatment, and keeping up with his constitutional duties, he’s wanted regular updates on the organisations run in his name.

Kristina Murrins from the King’s Foundation told me he’s still kept them on their toes.

She said: “Things like the environment, where our food is coming from, the importance of heritage crafts and the education around that. He’s been talking about these things for decades and decades. So the idea that just because he became ill that he would suddenly stop having those desires, I think it was never going to happen.”

Not least it seems because of his workaholic reputation, Kristina added: “I can confirm the man works incredibly hard… absolutely his level of interest in still getting updates and hearing what was going on and wanting to know that the work of the foundation was still progressing was very important to him.”

One project he wanted to endorse around the time of his prostate procedure was the Big Help Out. Part of the coronation weekend, the volunteering event is back in June.

He sees it as an important lasting legacy from last year’s celebrations; as the King said in a message in January a chance for us all to show “kindness, compassion and service to others”.

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How he can still be seen to serve during this time of ill health has clearly been on his mind from letters he’s sent and conversations he’s had with those he trusts.

One person told me how determined he has become to use his own experience of cancer to make a genuine impact for others going through it.

Last Tuesday he was announced as the patron of Cancer Research UK.

Unexpectedly we also found out last week he’s decided to take on over 200 extra patronages.

And I’m told we should expect it to be busy with events over the next couple of months, the likes of Trooping the Colour, D-Day commemorations and a state visit from the Japanese on the cards, albeit with the doctors keeping a watchful eye on everything the monarch does.

No one wants to compromise the King’s cancer recovery.

The photograph released last weekend to mark his return to public duties and a year since the coronation was very deliberate.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla, taken by portrait photographer Millie Pilkington, in Buckingham Palace Gardens on April 10
Pic: Millie Pilkington/Buckingham Palace/PA

I thought it was an unusual choice of picture.

The King was returning to work, but the Queen was still the main focus, smiling at the camera as her husband looked at her lovingly.

He may be the monarch, but the palace wants us to see them as a couple who, like many others, have faced the challenge of cancer together.

It was also a chance for the King to publicly acknowledge how his wife has stepped up in his absence.

Now tentatively back to the public duties he enjoys best, together they will continue the work they hope will really define their moment in history.

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