A MINOR Royal, so low in the pecking order she probably wouldn’t even make a pub quiz question, once announced in a statement that she’d had ‘women’s health problems’, leaving me wondering why she felt the need to share such private information.

Since we were no longer living in Victorian times, it didn’t seem necessary to raise awareness of it. Weren’t we already aware? Did sharing her experience make anyone else going through it feel any better? I doubted it.

When it comes to health issues, it is commonplace for people in the public eye, from Love Islanders to A-listers, to share every cough and spit. This week I saw a photo of Robbie Williams’ wife in a hospital bed, hooked up to a drip. Apparently she has a ‘mystery illness’. Pop singers and reality TV starlets often post photos of themselves in hospital beds, solemn faced and turned slightly from the camera, even though they presumably know full well their photo is being taken, for public view. An American star once posted photos of her and her husband lying on a bed, sobbing and clinging to each other after losing a baby. Laying bare such an intimate moment of grief to their army of social media followers seemed horribly voyeuristic and intrusive. Does such over-sharing really help?

This week we learned that the King has been diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment. It is, of course, headline news, but since the type of cancer hasn’t been revealed, the speculation that followed Monday’s announcement quickly became repetitive.

But now the news has sunk in, it seems hugely significant for the monarch to share such a private matter. Buckingham Palace confirmed that while King Charles, 75, doesn’t have prostate cancer, he was diagnosed with a “separate issue of concern” while having recent treatment for an enlarged prostate.

One commentator said it was unprecedented for the Royal family to release such detail. The Palace statement revealing the King’s cancer said he chose to share his diagnosis “in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer”.

Cancer charities have praised the King for being open about his illness. Professor Pat Price, founder of the Catch Up With Cancer campaign, said it is “a powerful reminder that one in two of us may face cancer at some point in our lives”.

And there it is. I totally get it. While those left waiting for cancer treatment may, understandably, be resentful of the fuss about the King’s diagnosis, it is surely a positive move for him to be so open.

Such transparency is a stark contrast to how his grandfather’s illness was handled. George VI’s death from lung cancer, aged 56 - 72 years ago this week - came as a shock to the public, and his family, and it has been said the King himself wasn’t fully aware of the severity of his illness.

Cancer was kept behind closed doors back then, rarely talked about and only in hushed tones. Today, conversations about health are openly encouraged, and for men, who are generally less likely to see a doctor, this is particularly vital. News of the King’s recent hospital admission led to a significant increase in searches for ‘enlarged prostate’ on the NHS website. If the King’s openness about his treatment encourages more men to get checked, that’s a good thing. When my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer it had already spread. If he’d been checked out earlier, he may have survived.

While I’m sceptical of the motives of celebrities who post carefully staged images of minor health ‘dramas’, there is no doubt that something positive can come from sharing experiences of illness, and urging people to get checked. The day after the hugely inspirational Dame Deborah James died, NHS checks for bowel cancer hit a record high.

TV soaps have the power to reach out, too, and are often praised for sensitive portrayals of health issues. Illness is no longer hidden behind closed doors, it’s on Corrie, TikTok and the teatime news - and for that we should be thankful.