The Telegraph 2024-03-23 01:00:37

Catherine, Princess of Wales: I am having treatment for cancer

The Princess of Wales is undergoing treatment for cancer, she has announced in a personal video message, but told the world: “I am going to be OK.”

The Princess is undergoing a course of preventative chemotherapy and has said she is focused on making a “full recovery”.

The cancer was identified during tests after her abdominal surgery on Jan 16, and she began treatment in late February.

Since then, she and the Prince have been focusing on sharing the news with their three young children and allowing the family to process it in private.

The Princess has now chosen to explain the diagnosis in a video message filmed at Windsor on Wednesday, in which she thanked the public for their support and spoke candidly about her “huge shock” at the news.

A spokesman for the King said His Majesty was “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did”.

The monarch and his daughter-in-law were at the London Clinic at the same time, and he has “remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks”.

The spokesman said the King and Queen “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement: “We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.”

A spokesman for the Sussexes has not confirmed when they learned of the diagnosis. Prince Harry is thought to have last seen the Princess at the Coronation of his father, King Charles III.

In recent weeks, the Princess and the Prince have been subjected to worldwide conspiracy theories about her health and whereabouts. 

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said the Princess had the “love and support of the whole country” and criticised those who had speculated about her health.

He said: “She has shown tremendous bravery with her statement. In recent weeks, she has been subjected to intense scrutiny and has been unfairly treated by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media.

“When it comes to matters of health, like everyone else she must be afforded the privacy to focus on her treatment and be with her loving family.”

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, criticised the “lurid speculation” over the Princess’s health as he sent wishes for a speedy recovery.

He wrote on X: “Any cancer diagnosis is shocking, but I can only imagine the added stress of receiving that news amid the lurid speculation we’ve seen in recent weeks. Their Royal Highnesses are entitled to privacy and, like any parents, will have waited to choose the right moment to tell their children.”

The Princess said the Prince had been a “great source of comfort and reassurance” as she came to terms with her diagnosis.

The couple chose to announce her cancer after Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis broke up for their school Easter holidays and could be sheltered at home from the public reaction.

The Princess said it had taken her and the Prince “time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK”.

In her message, she said: “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.”

The Princess received her diagnosis in late February. It is the reason the Prince of Wales missed the memorial for his godfather on Feb 27.

Addressing the public in the video, filmed by BBC Studios, the Princess said: “I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you personally for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding whilst I have been recovering from surgery.

“It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I’ve had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

“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.”

The Princess is now said to be on a “recovery pathway”. Kensington Palace is not sharing the type of cancer, or the stage at which it was found, citing the Princess’s right to medical privacy.

Speaking on the video, released by the palace directly for the public to see on its social media, the Princess said of the news: “This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.

“As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment.” 

She added: “Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too, as is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.”

In a renewed plea for privacy, and a message of hope for others who are also facing cancer treatment, the Princess added: “We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.

My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery.

“At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.”

The Princess has been away from public duties since Christmas Day, when she was seen walking to church at Sandringham with her family.

She was admitted to the London Clinic on Jan 16, with the palace issuing a statement the next day to confirm that she would be in hospital for up to two weeks and recovering in private until after Easter.

At the time, it was specified that the condition was non-cancerous and that the operation had been a success. It was only in post-operative tests that cancer was identified, and the Princess began preventative chemotherapy in late February.

A spokesman for Kensington Palace said: “The Princess is now on a recovery pathway, having commenced a course of preventative chemotherapy”, adding that she had wanted to share the information “when she and the Prince felt it was right for them as a family”.

Explaining what “preventative chemotherapy” is generally understood to mean, separate to the Princess’s individual case, Prof Andrew Beggs, MRC senior clinical fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: “Preventive chemotherapy after surgery is given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future – a bit like mopping a floor with bleach when you’ve spilt something on it, chemotherapy kills any spilt cells.”

The family will not be attending church at Easter. The Princess will return to official duties when she has clearance from her medical team. The Prince will be back to a schedule of public engagements in mid-April, after the Easter holiday.

The spokesman said: “The Princess will return to official duties when she is cleared to do so by her medical team. She is in good spirits and is focused on making a full recovery. 

“The Prince will continue to balance supporting his wife and family and maintaining his official duties, as he has done since the start of the year.”

Asked for further details about the condition or operation, the spokesman said: “We will not be sharing any further private medical information. The Princess has a right to medical privacy, as we all do.”

The Princess’s cancer diagnosis follows that of the King. His diagnosis was also made in post-operative tests, and confirmed in a public statement on Feb 6. He had had a procedure for the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

The King and Queen were aware that she was releasing a message to the public. 

James Middleton, her brother, issued a short message on Instagram along with a childhood photograph. “Over the years, we have climbed many mountains together,” the message said. “As a family, we will climb this one with you too.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan: ‘We wish health and healing for Kate’ after cancer diagnosis

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have wished “health and healing” for the Princess of Wales following her cancer diagnosis. 

Prince Harry and Meghan said: “We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.” 

The Princess, 42, chose to share the news of her diagnosis in a video filmed at Windsor on Wednesday, in which she has thanked the public for its support and shared her “huge shock” at the news.

She is undergoing a course of preventive chemotherapy after the cancer was identified during post-operative tests and has said she is focused on making a “full recovery”.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the King said His Majesty was “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did”.

The monarch and his daughter-in-law were at the London Clinic at the same time, and he has “remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks”.

The spokesman said the King and Queen “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time”.

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Islamic State claims Moscow concert hall attack

The Islamic State terror group (IS) has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a concert hall in Moscow that has killed more than 60 people.

IS fighters “attacked a large gathering… on the outskirts of the Russian capital”, the group said in a statement on Telegram. It provided no evidence to support the claim.

More than 60 people were killed and more than 100 injured when gunmen raided the Crocus City Hall, on Moscow’s western edge, spraying bullets into the crowd and throwing explosives.

Children are among those injured, Russian state media said.

Russian security services said they were urgently searching for the perpetrators, but that three or four of the perpetrators “in green camouflage suits” may have escaped in a white car.

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Moscow took the unusual step of issuing an alert warning of a potential terror attack, advising US citizens to avoid large gatherings, including concerts.

At the time, the Kremlin dismissed the warning as a “provocation” intended to destabilise Russian society.

Messages of condolence have poured in from world leaders.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has yet to make a public statement on the attack, although his spokesman said he was being briefed.

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