King Charles III and Prince William Cancel Royal Engagements Ahead of General Election

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the surprise general election would be held on July 4, causing the royals to adjust their plans.

The royals are pausing their official duties in the wake of Britain's newly announced general election on July 4. After U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his plans to hold an unexpected general election, Buckingham Palace has shared that both King Charles III and Prince William have canceled scheduled official events. 

It is customary practice that the royals, who do not vote or publicly support political candidates, avoid official duties that would distract from an election season. 

The king had two official outings planned this week, one for May 23 and two on May 24, but has since either canceled or postponed the engagements. And while Prince William hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace earlier this week, he also reportedly canceled another appearance last minute in the wake of the election news. 

Prince William, Prince of Wales speaks to guests at the Sovereign's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 21, 2024. - Yui Mok-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Buckingham Palace issued a statement to People that the royals will continue to cancel or postpone engagements that "may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sunak held a press conference outside of 10 Downing Street, sharing that he had spoken with King Charles ahead of the announcement, as is customary. 

"Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty the king to ask for the dissolution of Parliament," Sunak said. "The king has granted this request, and we will have a general election on the 4th of July."

King Charles III shakes hands as he welcomes Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Buckingham Palace, in central London, on Feb. 21, 2024 for their first in-person audience since the King's diagnosis with cancer. - JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Sunak has served as Britain's prime minister since October 2022 when he was formally appointed by Charles. Notably, Charles' late mother, Queen Elizabeth II's final formal duty as sovereign was to appoint Sunak's predecessor, Liz Truss, as prime minister, though Truss only served 45 days -- the shortest in British history. 

This news comes after Charles, 75, recently returned to public-facing duties amid his ongoing cancer treatment. The king announced he had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and took several weeks off while receiving treatment. 

Coincidentally, William's wife, Kate Middleton, was also diagnosed with cancer, separately, and has remained out of the public eye while receiving treatment. 

June is typically a busy month for the royal family with the annual Trooping the Colour parade, and this year, Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, were scheduled to host a state visit for the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the end of the month. It is unclear which events will be affected by the election news.