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King Charles returns to public duties in visit to cancer treatment center

<i>Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters via CNN Newsource</i><br/>The King and Queen meet staff as they arrive at the cancer treatment center.
Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters via CNN Newsource
The King and Queen meet staff as they arrive at the cancer treatment center.

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

London (CNN) — King Charles III, who is being treated for an unspecified cancer, returned to public duties on Tuesday with his first official engagement since his diagnosis after his doctors were said to have been “very encouraged” by his progress.

The 75-year-old monarch revealed he was battling cancer in early February and is continuing his treatment as he restarts his public-facing engagements.

The first fresh entry in his diary was a visit to a cancer treatment center in London, where he met patients and clinicians.

The King, who has been patron of Macmillan Cancer Support for nearly three decades, was accompanied by his wife, the Queen. The pair appeared to be on good form, smiling and waving at well-wishers gathered nearby on arrival before being welcomed to the hospital by medical staff.

Camilla, 76, has been president of cancer care and support charity Maggie’s since 2008.

The King has largely remained out of the public eye during his treatment so far, apart from an outing on Easter Sunday when he delighted crowds with an impromptu walkabout after attending church with several family members.

Tuesday’s visit to University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre was to reiterate the value of early diagnosis and focus attention on some of the innovative research taking place there.

The King has been refreshingly open about his health, particularly in comparison to his predecessors. His first major public engagement since his diagnosis is very much a continuation of his desire to raise awareness and encourage the public to seek advice if they notice any possible symptoms.

He leaned on his own recent personal experience when talking to medical teams as well as while connecting with patients and their families on Tuesday.

While being given a tour of the medical unit, which supports the identification and treatment of a wide range of cancer conditions, he was shown how CT scanners are helping with early detection. During his visit, he frequently asked questions and made comments about the importance of early diagnosis.

Later, he sat down with several cancer patients including Lesley Woodbridge, who was receiving chemotherapy as the monarch stopped by. While chatting, he told her, “I’ve got to have my treatment this afternoon as well,” according to the UK’s PA Media news agency. Charles himself has been receiving unspecified outpatient treatment over the last three months.

The King’s outing came as he was announced as the new patron of Cancer Research UK. While at the center, he was due to meet with the organization’s chief clinician, Charlie Swanton, who has led a project called TRACERx, which is focused on lung cancer.

While Buckingham Palace announced on Friday that the King had been given the green light to resume public duties, it will be a cautious return.

A palace spokesperson that the King was “greatly encouraged to be resuming some public-facing duties and very grateful to his medical team for their continued care and expertise.”

The palace also said that forthcoming events would be adapted where necessary to minimize any risks to his convalescence.

The palace did not specify how many engagements were being added to the King’s diary or whether he would be able to attend his birthday parade in London or the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations in Normandy in June.

However, it has been confirmed that he will welcome Japan’s Emperor and Empress for a state visit later that month.

This story has been updated with further developments.

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