Forget about the golden carriages, the unimaginably valuable Crown Jewels and the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the King’s coronation. With just hours to go until the big event, all eyes seem to be fixed on a rather peculiar place - the new monarch’s fingers.
There has been speculation about King Charles’ finger size for many years, with some people noticing that his fingers appear larger than average. In fact, he even at one time described himself as having “sausage fingers”.
After Charles witnessed the birth of Prince William in 1982, he wrote to a friend: “He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.” It’s a self-deprecating nickname that seems to have stuck, particularly among republicans and anti-royalists, who use the term as a means of expressing their political views or beliefs.
It’s likely a phrase that you’ve heard a lot more of in the run up to the King’s coronation, an event which, although historic, has divided opinion and once again stoked the fires of monarchist debate. Charles will be crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday (6 May).
But why exactly are Charles’ digits so large? Is there a medical reason behind it, and does he try to hide them from official photographs? Here is everything you need to know.
What causes swollen fingers?
Of course, it is possible for some people to be born with larger fingers, or to develop swollen fingers at an early age due to a variety of reasons. But in most cases, swollen fingers are not a normal or natural part of one’s anatomy, and may be a sign of an underlying condition or health issue.
Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout can cause inflammation in the joints and result in swollen fingers, while fluid retention, or edema, can cause swelling in different parts of the body, including the fingers. This can be caused by hormonal changes, heart or kidney problems, or certain medications.
Additionally, some genetic conditions such as Turner syndrome or Noonan syndrome can also cause swelling in the fingers or other parts of the body, and Raynaud’s disease is a condition that causes the blood vessels in the fingers and toes to narrow, leading to decreased blood flow and swelling.
Why does Prince Charles have swollen fingers?
Some experts have speculated that it may be due to a congenital condition, hormonal factors, or even genetics. However, without more information, it is impossible to make a definitive diagnosis.
The King has frequently been seen with swollen hands and feet, especially after long flights or when visiting hot countries; on the first day of his royal tour of India in 2019, he was spotted with painfully swollen hands and feet when he took off his shoes to enter a Sikh temple in New Delhi.
On TikTok last year, not long after Charles ascended to the throne, Dr. David Reiner said that the swelling in the royal’s fingers likely has a biological cause.
He said: “Throughout your body you’ve got blood vessels that deliver oxygen to your cells. These blood vessels are full of red blood cells and fluids – now there are pressures within the blood vessels that cause fluid to exit them.”
Reiner continued by saying that "oncotic forces" draw this fluid back into the blood vessels. In most people, if there is any fluid build-up outside the vessel, it is typically returned to the heart via the lymphatic system.
Reiner speculated that Charles’ swelling may be caused by fluid that is getting stuck outside of the blood vessels as a result of the monarch’s lymphatic system not functioning properly.
Congenital lymphedema is a rare condition in which the lymphatic system does not develop properly, leading to swelling in various parts of the body, including the fingers.
The doctor said he believes that fluid retention may be the cause of the King’s swollen digits, though there are numerous other possible causes, and there has been no official statement or comment from Charles or his representatives regarding the matter.
Without access to the results of a proper medical evaluation, it is difficult to determine the exact cause of the King’s finger size.
Is King Charles trying to hide his fingers?
Charles has been accused of hiding his hands to avoid being made fun of for his "sausage fingers” in photo portraits made public ahead of his coronation.
The monarch has appeared in new photos alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort, but people noticed that the King’s hands appeared to be conspicuously concealed from the photographer; in one picture he is standing next to Camilla with them behind his back, and in another, the 74-year-old is seen with one hand in his pocket.
Social media users have jokingly stated that the monarch has been "bullied" into keeping his fingers out of the public eye - images of the King’s puffy hands have gone viral online since he ascended to the throne in September. At one point this year, it was the seventh most frequently searched term on Google.
Of course, this is all speculation on the part of social media, and no official word has been given as to whether Charles is purposefully hiding his fingers from photographs, or for what reason this could be the case.