What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (2024)

ByJennifer Clarke,BBC News

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (1)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (2)Millie Pilkington/Buckingham Palace/PA

King Charles has resumed some public duties, as he continues to be treated for cancer.

The King temporarily stopped most of his public engagements after his diagnosis in February.

What public duties will the King carry out?

The King's first visit was to a cancer treatment centre with Queen Camilla, and he also made a surprise visit to an army barracks in Hampshire, where he joked about being "allowed out of my cage".

However, Charles will not undertake a full summer programme of engagements.

He will attend Trooping the Colour on 15 June, but is expected to inspect soldiers from a carriage rather than on horseback.

The King and Queen will also welcome the emperor and empress of Japan for a state visit from 25 to 27 June. The visit will go ahead, even though it takes place during the election campaign.

Charles will deliver the King's Speech on 17 July as part of the State Opening of Parliament after the general election.

Throughout his treatment, the King has held private meetings as head of state and completed official paperwork.

Weekly meetings with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also continued, although not all were in person.

King Charles made his first major public appearance since his diagnosis on Easter Sunday, when he and the Queen greeted crowds after a church service in Windsor.

What does the King do?

The King is the UK head of state, but his powers are largely symbolic and ceremonial. He remains politically neutral.

He receives daily dispatches from the government in a red leather box, including briefings ahead of important meetings, or documents needing his signature.

The prime minister normally meets the King on a Wednesday at Buckingham Palace.

These meetings are completely private, and no official records are kept of what is said.

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (3)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (4)Leon Neal/PA Media

The King also has a number of official parliamentary roles:

  • Appointing a government - the leader of the party that wins a general election is usually called to Buckingham Palace, where they are invited to form a government. The King also formally dissolves Parliament before a general election
  • State Opening and the King's Speech - the King sets out the government's plans in a speech delivered from the throne in the House of Lords
  • Royal Assent - when a piece of legislation is passed through Parliament, it must be formally approved by the King in order to become law. The last time Royal Assent was refused was in 1708

The King hosts visiting heads of state, and regularly meets foreign ambassadors and high commissioners.

He is head of state for 14 of these, known as the Commonwealth realms, as well as the Crown dependencies - the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (5)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (6)Jonathan Yeo Studio

Charles also confers official honours on people from all walks of life, in public recognition of their merit, service or bravery. Most honours are awarded at new year and on the monarch's official birthday, in June.

The King is also patron to a number of organisations, including the RNLI, the Samaritans, RAF Museum, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the Penny Brohn cancer charity and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, Orchestra, and Choir.

The Queen also holds a number of patronages, including the Royal Literary Fund, the Royal Academy of Dance, the Royal Voluntary Service and the Army Benevolent Fund, and undertakes her own public engagements.

Who else is in the Royal Family?

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (7)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (8)PA Media

  • Prince William is the elder son of King Charles and his first wife, the late Princess Diana. After the death of the Queen, he became the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall while retaining his previous Duke of Cambridge title. He is married to Catherine, Princess of Wales and duch*ess of Cornwall and Cambridge. They have three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
  • The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) was the Queen's second child and only daughter. She is married to Vice Adm Timothy Laurence and has two children with her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips: Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall
  • The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Edward) was the Queen's youngest child. He is married to the duch*ess of Edinburgh (Sophie Rhys-Jones). They have two children: Lady Louise and James, Earl of Wessex
  • The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) was the Queen's second son. He has two daughters with his former wife, the duch*ess of York (Sarah Ferguson): Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Prince Andrew stepped down as a "working royal" in 2019 after a controversial BBC Newsnight interview about allegations that he had sexually assaulted Virginia Giuffre. In February 2022, he paid an undisclosed sum to settle the civil sexual assault case which Ms Guiffre brought against him in the US
  • The Duke of Sussex (Prince Harry) is William's younger brother. He is married to the duch*ess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). They have two children: Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. In 2020, they announced they were stepping back as senior royals and moved to California

How does succession work and who is King Charles's heir?

The order of succession sets out which member of the Royal Family takes over as monarch when the existing one dies or abdicates.

First in line - the heir to the throne - is the monarch's eldest child. Sons no longer take precedence over their older sisters.

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (9)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (10)

King Charles's heir is his elder son, the Prince of Wales.

William's eldest child Prince George is second-in-line to the throne, and his daughter Princess Charlotte is third. Her younger brother Prince Louis is fourth and Prince Harry is fifth.

Where does the Royal Family get its money?

The amount is based on a proportion of the profits of the Crown Estate, a £16.5bn property business owned by the monarch but run independently.

The Sovereign Grant is worth £86.3m for 2023-2024, as it was in 2021-2022 and 2022-23, although the Royal Family's total spending was more, with the difference covered by reserves.

To keep the annual payment at the same level of £86.3m in 2024-2025, the grant will be a smaller percentage of Crown Estate profits, which have been boosted by six new offshore wind farms.

However, if Crown Estate profits continue to grow as predicted, even under the reduced formula, the amount given to the Royal Family is expected to increase substantially in 2025-2026 and 2026-2027.

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (11)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (12)Getty Images

The King also receives money from a private estate called the Duchy of Lancaster, which is passed down from monarch to monarch. It covers more than 18,000 hectares of land, including property in central London. Worth £654m, it generates about £20m a year in profits.

The Duke of Cornwall (currently William, Prince of Wales) benefits from the Duchy of Cornwall, which mainly owns land in the south-west of England. Worth £1bn, it generated a net surplus of £24m in 2022-23.

The King and William receive the profits from the duchies personally, and can spend the money as they wish. Both voluntarily pay income tax on the proceeds.

Some Royal Family members have private art, jewellery and stamp collections which they can sell or use to generate income as they wish.

What happened at the Coronation?

On 6 May 2023, Charles and his wife Camilla were crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in front of more than 2,000 guests, including global politicians, fellow kings and queens, religious leaders, celebrities and community champions.

Crowds lined the streets of central London to watch the King and Queen return to Buckingham Palace in a mile-long procession.

Two months later, the King was presented with the Scottish crown jewels, in a special service of thanksgiving at St Giles' Cathedral, in Edinburgh.

Where do the Royal Family live?

The King and Queen's official residence, Buckingham Palace, is undergoing a 10-year £369m refurbishment,. They split their time between Clarence House in London and Highgrove in Gloucestershire.

Other Royal residences include Windsor Castle, Sandringham, in Norfolk, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh, and Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire.

In August 2022, the Prince and Princess of Wales moved from Kensington Palace in west London to live in Adelaide Cottage, on the Windsor Estate.

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (13)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (14)PA Media

How popular is the Royal Family?

A 2023 YouGov opinion poll of more than 2,000 adults in Britain ahead of the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's death suggested a sharp generational divide.

Overall, 62% wanted to keep the monarchy, with 26% backing an elected head of state - up from 17% a decade earlier.

But while 80% of the over-65s supported the monarchy, only 37% of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed.

There was also less support for the royals in Scotland or Wales than in England.

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What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (17)What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (18)

Prince Andrew, Duke of York

Prince Louis

UK Royal Family

Coronation of King Charles III

Prince George

Meghan, duch*ess of Sussex

Queen Camilla

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

UK Parliament

Prince William, Prince of Wales

King Charles III

Princess Charlotte

Catherine, Princess of Wales

What does King Charles do and how has cancer changed his duties? (2024)

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