King Charles' Hospital Stay Offers Rare Glimpse Of Royals Being A Real Family

King Charles's recent hospitalization was historic for a sad reason: It may well have been the first time two senior members of the royal family announced hospital stays at the same time. The palace had already notified the public hours earlier that Catherine, Princess of Wales, had just undergone abdominal surgery. While the exact nature of the procedure has yet to be revealed, it was serious enough to require taking a break from her official duties for more than two months. 

Naturally, William, Prince of Wales, was one of the first visitors spotted at the hospital where his wife is recuperating. Even more heartwarming, however, was the news that the king came to see his daughter-in-law at the London Clinic shortly before becoming a patient there himself. Charles underwent treatment for an enlarged prostate on January 26. It was a reminder to the world that behind the palace walls lives a very human family who go through the same joys and ordeals as we mere commoners do. 

The British royals do try to present a dignified outward image. The late Queen Elizabeth, in particular, was said to live by the unofficial "never complain, never explain" motto, and she wasn't given to displays of emotion and affection toward her family in public. But glimpses of vulnerability like these are happening more frequently, which could go a long way toward keeping the monarchy relevant.

The royals are presenting a relatable image

Succeeding a queen with a near-impeccable reputation and a 75-year reign is no easy feat. King Charles hopes to appeal to his countrymen by showing he's a man of the people, despite his privileged position. Even before taking the throne, he was showing his cheekier side to the public; when a bystander at the 2022 Commonwealth Games asked the prince if he wanted to go out for a pint, Charles enthusiastically said, "Where?" (per New York Post). The monarch could easily order a bespoke wardrobe for every season, but he shows his commitment to sustainability by favoring a coat he's had for 40 years. And while postage stamps of previous monarchs depict them wearing crowns, Charles preferred to be shown going without royal headgear. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams commented to the Daily Express, "This design shows a human side to Charles which reflects its subject extremely well." Similarly, commemorative stamps featuring Charles and Queen Camilla show them in a genuine moment of marital laughter and solidarity.

Kings of yesteryear would never have dreamed of sharing a very personal medical condition with the rest of the world. Charles, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to educate men about the importance of regular prostate checkups. NPR and other outlets shared a statement from the palace, saying the king was "delighted to learn that his diagnosis is having a positive impact on public health awareness."

William and Kate are even more relatable royals

As for the next generation of royals, Prince WIlliam and Catherine Middleton are already winning raves for showing a decidedly un-stuffy side. Yes, they're perfectly proper at state events, but during more informal occasions, they're not shy about letting their hair down (well, perhaps Kate more than Wills). They're more open than King Charles to shows of affection both with each other and with the public; the Daily Mail has even dubbed William the "Prince of Hugs" for his warm embraces of fans.

The couple are also proud of being hands-on parents. Though the Waleses do employ a nanny, they spend plenty of quality time with Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte. They make a point of being at the kids' school concerts and other events, and let them continue classes as usual even in the midst of their own mourning for Queen Elizabeth , so as not to disrupt the kids' lives. Kate showed her relatability as a mom when she sported bandages on her fingers, the reported result of bouncing on a trampoline with her kids. And when the princess underwent her abdominal surgery, the prince immediately shifted his schedule so he had the freedom to visit his wife and continue daily routines with their children. Royal biographer Robert Hardman told People, "We know they are a very tight family unit, and he wants to be there for them."

Once the worst of their current situation is over, the king and princess could become more popular than ever for being vulnerable and real.