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King Charles III immediately became the United Kingdom’s ruling monarch when Queen Elizabeth II died. One of his first duties as the head of the royal family was to issue a statement following the queen’s death. His crowing will officially make him the head sovereign, but it has also brought renewed interest in King Charles’ health. A doctor weighs in with possible explanations for his highness’ swollen fingers.

England's King Charles III attends an event in Braemar, Scotland on Sept. 3. 2022. Charles' swollen fingers have raised some concerns among royal watchers, and a doctor weighs in on what they could signal.
King Charles III | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

How long will it take for Charles III to be crowned king?

Charles earned the title of king when his mother, the queen, died, but he has to wait to officially be crowned king.

Monarchy rules state that the person next in line to the throne ascends immediately to avoid a suspension of power. A group of high-ranking officials and religious leaders made the proclamation when Queen Elizabeth died.

Charles had his formal accession ceremony two days after the queen died, but it could be several months until Charles is officially crowned. The elaborate coronation celebration is likely to feature leaders, politicians, and public figures from around the world. Planning a large ceremony with an international guest list could take several months. The queen waited more than a year before she donned the crown.

What King Charles’ swollen fingers say about his health, according to a doctor

King Charles swollen fingers have been caught on camera many times over the years. His ascension to the throne brought renewed interest in his digits.

Charles’ fingers might look painful and unusual, but a doctor said several relatively benign conditions could be the cause.

“Edema is a condition where the body starts to retain fluids in the limbs, normally the legs and ankles, but also in the fingers, which causes them to swell,” Dr. Gareth Nye, a senior lecturer at the University of Chester, told the Daily Star. “Edema is a common condition and mostly affects people over the age of 65 as the ability for fluid control is restricted.”

Nye, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, according to his University of Chester profile, also indicated arthritis could be a cause for Charles’ swollen fingers. “Fingers usually become stiff, painful, and swollen, and although medication can help with the pain, the swelling can remain,” he said.

An overly salty diet or other medications could cause finger swelling. However, Nye said that Charles’ fingers aren’t necessarily a sign of poor health.

“There certainly aren’t any immediate health concerns to be concluded from swollen fingers and is most likely a sign of his age,” Nye said.

How many countries does Charles reign over, and who would succeed him on the throne?

King Charles III — fingers and all — will follow the longest-serving monarch in England’s history. Will he reinvent the monarchy? Or will he hew closer to established traditions, as one royal staffer predicts? Time will tell in what manner he rules. 

What we know now is he reigns over countries around the world as the head of the British Commonwealth. Canada, Australia, Guyana, Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and New Zealand remain part of the commonwealth outside the United Kingdom.

Nye said King Charles’ fingers aren’t a sure sign of poor health. Yet whenever Charles’ reign ends, the clearly-defined line of succession to the throne weaves across two generations, per the royal family website:


Body Language Expert Said King Charles Showed ‘Regret’ When He Mentioned Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in First Address After Queen Elizabeth’s Death

  1. William, Prince of Wales
  2. Prince George of Wales
  3. Princess Charlotte of Wales
  4. Prince Louis of Wales
  5. Harry, Duke of Sussex
  6. Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
  7.  Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor

Charles has a chance to mold the monarchy in his image and set the tone for the royal family for years to come.

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