King Charles knew it would be his responsibility to rule England from the time that he was very young. Nonetheless, it still felt shocking to see him don the crown after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Charles made history by becoming the oldest monarch who ascended to the throne, and many have begun to quietly wonder exactly how long his reign will be.
There are many reasons for this speculation, including some cynics darkly predicting that the constant exploits of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are stressful enough to send Charles to an early grave. The biggest reason people wonder about the length of Charles’ reign, though, is the fact that he has had some major health issues that most of the public knows nothing about.
Just what medical issues has Charles been dealing with? How have they damaged his body, and what’s the deal with the mystery illness that the world’s greatest doctors still haven’t figured out? Keep reading to discover the answers!
Charles got COVID-19…twice
A big part of what made the COVID-19 pandemic so frightening is that nobody was safe from it. Even the wealthiest and most privileged weren’t safe from the virus, and King Charles is a great example of that. After all, the monarch managed to get infected on two separate occasions!
Charles first got infected back in 2020, and royal officials were quick to assure the public that his symptoms were mild. As Today reports, Clarence House released a statement that claimed Charles had “been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”
Unfortunately, Charles got COVID-19 again in 2022, and like most people who have had multiple infections, he quickly grew tired of it. His self-isolation meant Charles had to cancel appearances at important social events, and as The Guardian reports, his wife Camilla told attendees at one of these events that Charles found his illness and his subsequent isolation “a bit tiresome.”
Horseback riding injuries
While King Charles had suffered from medical issues like COVID-19 that he had no control over, he also dealt with some issues that were more or less his fault. For example, the King is a major equestrian, and he’s sustained a number of injuries due to his love of riding horses. This includes fracturing his right arm in 1990, breaking a rib in 1998, and injuring his shoulder in 2001.
That last injury happened when Charles was playing Polo with Prince William and Prince Harry. The then-prince later let NBC know just how bad this Polo injury really was. “The pony came down sideways and I must have landed absolutely smack on my head,” he said. Afterward, Charles engaged in what might have been either dark humor or a casual admission that he nearly died decades before ascending to the throne. “[Harry] told me later that he thought, when I was lying on the ground, that I was — he said ‘papa’s just snoring,’ and there I was busily swallowing my tongue and quietly dying.”
Struggles with back pain
Whether it comes from genetics or all those Polo injuries, King Charles has struggled with back pain for decades. He was a much younger man when these issues first arose, and it sounds like they have only gotten worse over the years.
Back in 1991, Charles canceled several of his scheduled engagements due to his pain, and his physician, Dr. John Webb, spilled some of the details of the the prince’s condition to The New York Times. According to Webb, Charles had struggled with the issue for at least five weeks, and the King would need to get surgery if he didn’t rest and stop making things worse.
It has never been revealed whether Charles got surgery or not, but he was still complaining about his back pain to royal servants as recently as 2021.
The mystery issue affecting King Charles’ hands
For the most part, King Charles hasn’t had to worry about his health too much because he has access to the best doctors and the best medical care in the entire world. When issues pop up, he can usually have them dealt with right away, like when he had to have a hernia repaired in 2003 or when he had to have a benign tumor removed in 2008. There is one issue, though, that Charles has been unable to cure after all these years, and its exact causes continue to perplex medical experts.
In short, King Charles is often seen in public with very swollen hands, and he has even jokingly referred to them as his “sausage fingers” in 2012. Once Charles became King, though, the public took a renewed interest in the matter, but neither he nor the Palace have been upfront about what could cause this condition known as dactylitis. Speculating about the issue, Dr. Chun Tang told the Daily Mail that it could be caused by everything from high sodium levels to bacterial infections or tuberculosis. It could be a sign of something as simple as arthritis or something as complex as an autoimmune disorder, but we may never know the truth until King Charles decides to divulge it to us.