King Charles III makes his cancer public and withdraws from the public for the moment. He represents the change in the Royals.

King Charles and Queen Camilla on their way to church

King Charles and Queen Camilla on their way to a church service in Sandringham, Norfolk, on February 4, 2024 Photo: Paul Marriott/imago

By September 10, 2022, it became clear that King Charles III represents a turning point in the British monarchy. When he cursed his wayward fountain pen as she signed the proclamation of him as king, he revealed more about himself in just a few seconds than Queen Elizabeth II, who died two days earlier, in 72 years on the throne. On Monday of this week, Charles made history again when the royal family made his cancer public, a step that breaks with centuries-old conventions.

“Never complain, never explain”: that was always the royal motto, which, like so many other things, did not indulge in fantasy, but rather served as a reflection of the ideal moral state of the British character.

Charles, 75, grew up in a time when talking about one's own mood was considered the height of impoliteness. The question “How are you?” It did not require a substantive response, it was a behavioral test. As a little Englishman you learned that the most stressful people are those who, when they ask you “How are you?”, they start to tell you.

customs have changed

Now we know that there are even more stressful people: those who tell things without being asked. Prince Harry, for example, made this the purpose of his life and moved to the United States, the country of ignorance. But customs have also changed in the United Kingdom. You no longer hide your private life, you stage it. Subjective feelings are at least as important as objective circumstances. This is the basis for developments as diverse as “woke” identity politics and Brexit.

King Charles III achieves complete disclosure of the private sphere. Of course not, no details of his illness and treatment will be revealed and there certainly won't be any daily health bulletin to follow. The abdominal operation of Kate, wife of heir to the throne William, in January was also not shown to the public in detail. But when the king was hospitalized in January with an enlarged prostate, he openly addressed himself and became a role model for other men of his generation. The change in mentality of British society in the 21st century has reached its peak. What even the king does cannot be wrong.

This evolution was already evident when, in addition to his marriage to Diana, Charles continued his affair with Camila, when he divorced and when, unlike his ancestors, he did not impose restrictions on his children's choice of partner. In the 20th century, a king still had to abdicate in order to marry a divorced woman. Today the Queen, that is, Camilla, is no longer even the mother of the heir to the throne, the Royal Family is as confused and therefore normal as other families: the mirror of a British society in which it no longer exists no moral ideal.

Unexpected side effect

The king's public illness has an unexpected side effect. King Charles III will no longer attend public appointments until further notice. He just rules, so he continues to enforce laws and receives the Prime Minister every week. But for now he is no longer a public figure. His mother couldn't afford it. Never revealing anything about herself, Queen Elizabeth II had to always be present in public. By revealing something about himself, King Charles III can do so. withdraw from the public.

The monarch is reduced to his primary function: head of state instead of celebrity. The glamor was yesterday. William and Kate have also long insisted on greater privacy, especially for their children, and this is respected differently than before.

The relatively young era in which the Royal Family was constantly in the crosshairs of a ruthless public and individual members, especially those who were married, repeatedly died as a result, is coming to an end. If it continues like this, it would be for King Carlos III. a worthy legacy.