9 February 2024
His Majesty’s cancer diagnosis

This week, Buckingham Palace confirmed His Majesty the King has been diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer sadly touches so many of our lives, and I am sure everyone in South Shropshire will join me in sending our best wishes for a swift recovery for His Majesty. As I write we do not know what type of cancer with which the King has been diagnosed, but we do know that many cancers are far more treatable today than in the past. 

It is encouraging to know cancer survival is improving, and has doubled in the last 50 years in the UK. Since 2010, over £882 million in government funding has been spent on cancer research across the UK.

The UK’s world-leading life science research sector, which put us at the forefront of pioneering medicines against covid-19, invests heavily in research into effective cancer treatments. UK expertise attracts more venture capital investment into UK life sciences and biotech outpacing all other European countries in 2023, with the UK receiving 41% of all venture capital investment in the sector in Europe.

Current Government-funded projects include a £47.5 million partnership between Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research and the Little Princess Trust to deliver early phases of clinical research, which will generate new treatments for future generations. A further £22.5 million is being invested in cancer research to develop new immune-based cancer therapies. The Department of Health and Social Care is also partnering with BioNTech SE, with the aim of delivering 10,000 doses of personalised therapies to UK patients by 2030.

This week, separate from His Majesty’s announcement, the government announced a new Children’s Cancer Taskforce. It will bring together a range of experts to change the dial on how we detect, treat and care for children with cancer, the biggest cause of death by illness of under 14’s in the UK. 

In response to His Majesty’s diagnosis, the Palace has confirmed he will continue to undertake state business and official paperwork as usual. As someone who enjoys being busy, he will no doubt be disappointed to have to reduce his schedule. But the Prince of Wales and other senior members of the Royal Family will take on additional duties and engagements to ensure as little disruption as possible. 

Having deftly handled the natural consequences of age with Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip, I know the Palace will be well placed to handle any issues arising from His Majesty’s unfortunate diagnosis. I wish him a swift and full recovery.