King Charles is well-known for being a total workaholic—he famously never even takes lunch breaks during a workday, typically works seven days a week, and sometimes stays up until 4 a.m. answering correspondence. The King heads into hospital sometime this week for a “corrective procedure” for a benign enlarged prostate, just two months after his 75th birthday. All of this adds up to an apparent plea from his wife, Queen Camilla: slow down.
“Queen Camilla has reportedly told him to reduce his engagements in a bid to rest up,” The Mirror reports. In the past year, Charles has already undertaken royal visits to France, Germany, and Kenya, in addition to his Coronation in May. He completed 516 engagements in 2023, including 94 that were abroad.
“The Queen has told him he needs to slow down a bit,” a source speaking to The Sun said.
This isn’t the first time a member of the King’s family has mentioned something of the sort. Both of his sons commented on his work ethic in a 2018 documentary released for Charles’ 70th birthday, with Prince William commenting that he “never stops”: “When we were kids there were bags and bags and bags of work that the office just sent to him,” he said in Prince, Son, and Heir—Charles at 70. For his part, Prince Harry said that, even after skipping lunch, his father takes his evening meal “ridiculously late at night,” adding “and then goes to his desk later that night and will fall asleep on his notes to the point of where he’ll wake up with a piece of paper stuck to his face.”
It makes sense, really—the King waited 73 years in perhaps the longest apprenticeship of all time to become monarch. Those close to Charles say he “likes to be busy” and is “raring to go”: “His work ethic is well known and not a surprise to anyone,” they said.
And, though Charles may not be seen undertaking public engagements for a month, The Sun reports, he will continue to work while resting, including dealing with government papers and his famous Red Boxes. In his book Courtiers, royal author Valentine Low said the King is “very demanding of himself,” and expects the same from his staff, with phone calls coming “at any time” until 11 p.m.—and even at Christmas.
“You see how he works all day long, has a quick supper, and then disappears until about 4 a.m. to write letters,” said Sophie Winkleman, who is married to Lord Frederick Windsor, the King’s cousin. “He cares about so many things, and he comes up with brilliant solutions.”
Royal biographer Robert Jobson—who profiled Charles in the book Our King—said “The King is a thoroughly decent man, a person of integrity who has always strived to do his best as a public servant and tried to put duty before himself,” he said. “He is a grafter, too, regularly putting in long hours. He cares very deeply about those he serves, in the U.K., the realms and the wider Commonwealth, and the planet on which we all live. He has always had an innate sense of duty and tried his best to justify his good fortune by working tirelessly to improve the lot of others less fortunate to himself.”
The King may have just made a difference through his health scare, by the way: the NHS’ website saw increased traffic on the subject of prostate enlargement, The Mirror reports; the outlet writes that “It’s understood the King made his diagnosis public to encourage more men to get checked out. The announcement clearly worked, however, prompting more than 26,000 visits to the NHS England page on prostate enlargement in the following 48 hours [after the announcement]—compared to the average of just 1,400 a day.”
All good things, but Harry agrees with Camilla on this point: as far back as the 2018 documentary to honor Charles turning 70, Harry said of his father “He does need to slow down.”