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Meet King Charles' loyal inner circle: from right-hand man to close friend of 65 years

Prince Harry recently flew to the UK to visit His Majesty

King Charles at Westminster Abbey
Phoebe Tatham
Phoebe TathamContent Writer
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News of King Charles III's cancer diagnosis shocked the world when it emerged via a Buckingham Palace statement on Monday evening. The Palace confirmed that Charles had been diagnosed with a "form of cancer" which was discovered when the 75-year-old monarch recently underwent treatment at the London Clinic for a benign enlarged prostate.

King Charles in blue pinstripe suit © Getty Images
King Charles announced his diagnosis on Monday

While Buckingham Palace said the King "remains wholly positive about his treatment" Charles has been forced to postpone public-facing engagements. He will nonetheless continue with his constitutional role as head of state, including paperwork, his red boxes and private meetings.

WATCH: King diagnosed with unspecified cancer – what is known so far

As the monarch continues his outpatient treatments, it's clear that he'll need all the support he can get. Join us as we take a closer look at his inner circle…

The King's equerry - Major Jonathan Thompson

The monarch's right-hand man, Major Jonathan Thompson, garnered a cult following during the late Queen's reign, earning him the moniker of "Major Eye Candy". He even made it into Tatler's Social Power Index last year, with the publication lauding him for his "fabulous sense of humour" and looking "as good in a suit as he does a kilt." 

military person dressed in military gear © Getty Images
Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Thompson was recently promoted from equerry to 'super equerry'

Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Thompson, who trained with the 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, has been reportedly promoted to "super equerry" after impressing King Charles and Queen Camilla in his current role. Since the Queen's death, Lt Col Thompson has been by the King's side for a number of major events, including Charles's coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May, and the King and Queen's visits to Northern Ireland, Germany and France.

What is an equerry? An equerry is an officer of the royal household who assists the royal family. Equerries are responsible for the detailed planning and execution of the royals' daily programmes. They accompany monarchs on official engagements, assist with military matters and help his guests during meetings with dignitaries.

Clive Alderton

Considered to be His Majesty's most senior aide, Clive Alderton has been Charles' principal private secretary for years. At the time of his appointment to Clarence House, he was Britain's Ambassador to Morocco but he had previously served Charles and wife Camilla for six years between 2006 and 2012. He first joined the Foreign Office in 1986. His successful career has seen him serve overseas in Poland, Belgium, Singapore and France.

Sir Clive Alderton is King Charles's private secretary© Getty Images
Sir Clive Alderton is King Charles's private secretary

What is a private secretary? As the most important member of the Royal Household, the Private Secretary is responsible for supporting the King in his duties as Head of State. Described by the Royal Family as "the channel of communication between the Head of State and the Government", they also liaise with the Armed Forces, the Church and the many organisations of which His Majesty is patron.

Nicholas Soames

Sir Nicholas Soames - grandson of Sir Winston Churchill - has been a confidant and close friend to Charles for over 65 years. The pair got to know each other in 1970 when Nicholas was appointed equerry to the royal, a position he held for two years.

Sir Nicholas has said the life of his friend will change now that he has become King. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As the King said, as he embarks on his new responsibilities, clearly his life will change, and his views and the way that he conducts himself will observe, of course, the constitutional principles. 

prince charles nicholas soames© Getty Images
Nicholas is a member of the House of Lords

"He made absolutely plain that he intends to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of the nation that he understands very well. The Prince of Wales has served a long apprenticeship at the feet of an absolute master and he knows very well what the constitutional obligations are."

Charles acted as best man at Nicholas's wedding to heiress Catherine Weatherall in 1981. An observer previously told the Independent that their friendship is based on "a great deal of mutual humour and banter but the utmost public discretion".

Norton Knatchbull, 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Charles has had a close relationship with the Knatchbull family since childhood. The first Earl Mountbatten, Louis, was the uncle of Prince Philip and a mentor of Prince Charles growing up - he famously referred to him as his Honorary Grandfather. Tragically, he was killed alongside his grandson Nicolas by IRA terrorists in 1979 and it was heartbroken Charles who read at his funeral.

Norton is Prince William's godfather© David Hartley/Shutterstock
Norton is Prince William's godfather

Louis's grandson Norton, meanwhile, has a very strong bond with Charles. He was chosen to be one of Prince William's godparents - Prince Philip was his godfather - while his daughter Lady Alexandra was a goddaughter of Princess Diana.

The bond between the families was especially evident in June 2016 when Charles walked Alexandra down the aisle on her wedding day. At the time her father was too ill to take on the role himself. The society nuptials had an incredible guest list that included the Queen and Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Queen Sofia of Spain and the former King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.

Lord Chamberlain - Andrew David Parker

Andrew David Parker, Baron Parker of Minsmere, served as Director General of MI5 from 2013 to 2020. He assumed the role of Lord Chamberlain on April 1 after Earl Peel, who had served in the post for 14 years.

As the most senior official in the royal household, Andrew is responsible for organising the King's ceremonial and public programme. This typically includes organising garden parties, state visits, royal weddings and state openings of parliament.

Peter St Clair-Erskine

Peter St Clair-Erskine started working for Charles and Camilla as Master of the Household at Clarence House in 2014. He was appointed to his most recent position - Lord Steward - in 2023, when he was officially given his 'wand of office'. 

Peter served as Master of the Household at Clarence House© Getty Images
Peter served as Master of the Household at Clarence House

Prior to his role of Master of the Household, Peter worked as head of royalty protection for more than ten years.

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